By Kemp Minifie, Gourmet
Looking for the new "it" green? It's purslane, and don't purse your lips at it! Its transformation from weed to super-green is worthy of a Harvard MBA study. Although purslane's been around for thousands of years-it's originally from India-the plant has traveled the world and seems to grow easily just about everywhere; ask any farmer or gardener.
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While people around the globe have been gobbling up purslane for a long time, the American health police were a bit slow to recognize its prodigious benefits. Not any longer. You know a weed has made a Cinderella changeover when farmers post signs at their local markets extolling its many virtues. Primary among them is the fact that it's the richest vegetable source of those extremely desirable omega-3 fatty acids, richer even than some fish oils.
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I've seen a few sheepish grins from farmers who can't quite believe they are getting money for something they used to rip out as a weed, but now many are cultivating it from seed. You can choose from green or gold purslane. The green purslane (on the left in photo) has pinky-red stems and smaller green leaves; it looks just like the wild purslane that grew between the cracks in the driveway of my childhood home. The domesticated gold purslane, (on the right in photo), has fat, lighter-colored leaves in comparison.
Purslane is delicious raw or cooked. Its leaves add both a lemony tang and delightful crisp crunch to salads. When cooked, it has a slight mucilaginous quality, but don't let that be a negative. Embrace it as a digestive aid, like okra, though it's nowhere near as slippery as okra. Just chop it up, including the stems, and sauté or stir-fry it with some minced garlic in olive oil for 3 to 4 minutes. Take a tip from the Mexicans and use the cooked purslane as a filling for a soft taco, along with some salsa and cheese, of course!
Here are some salad recipes to get you started:
- Purslane and Parsley Salad
- Grilled Zucchini Salad With Purslane and Tomato
- Chopped Arabic Salad
- Lebanese Bread and Tomato Salad