Thursday, August 12, 2010

Discovering Purslane

I have to admit it was a first for me. After dinner Sunday night, we were playing out on the driveway with the kids. I leaned over, pointed to a weed growing from the cracks in the concrete and said, "hey, we ate this for dinner!"

I don't think my husband was impressed.

Don't get me wrong, I didn't go out and forage for dinner, but I did decide to be adventurous at the farmer's market. A farmer was selling his "magic mix"--a handful of chard, a handful of nasturtium leaves and a handful of purslane (this is the "weed.") "Chop and saute for 2 minutes--it's the perfect side dish," he said.

I was intrigued. I also remembered hearing about purslane's great health benefits.

Purslane contains more Omega-3 fatty acids--especially alpha-linolenic acid--than any other leafy vegetable. It also contains an extraordinary amount of EPA for a land-based vegetable source.

Purslane is a succulent herb--which means it pulls moisture from the ground and holds it in its leaves and stems. This is good news from an eating standpoint; it means purslane is juicy. It can be used raw in salads or cooked like spinach. I've only eaten it cooked with the aforementioned chard and nasturtium, and it was surprisingly good. It didn't have a strong or "weedy" taste, but added some nice crunch and a pleasant, lightly sour note to my saute (almost as if I had added some vinegar or lemon juice to balance out the other flavors).

Here's what it looks like cooked. I sauteed it in local Amish butter, added salt and pepper, and organic feta. I'd like to try it raw too. I've found recipes for a cucumber yogurt salad and potato salad using raw purslane.

For more details on purslane, click here or here.

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