Friday, July 06, 2007

Life in the Purslane

I don't know if it's because I'm learning more or because everyone else is (or, of course, both), but I'm finding that at this year's farmers' market there are many more interesting offerings, especially in the area of wild edibles.

A few weeks ago I mentioned buying lamb's quarters and bringing them home to experiment with a weed otherwise known as "wild spinach." This past week, I found purslane, a wild edible that I'd had all over my garden at the house and never got around to sampling once I knew what it was.


Between my book on wild edibles and an article in the May/June Vegetarian Times by the same author ("Wildman" Steve Brill), I discovered that purslane (Portulaca oleracea) is loaded with omega-3 fatty acids and iron, paired with vitamin C and even some calcium. Who knew? The leaves are succulent and a little spongy, and they can get a little slippery when cooked, so they apparently make a good thickening agent in soups, much like okra.

I sampled a bit raw, just to see how it would taste and to ponder how I might want to prepare it. And though it would have been fine raw, with just a hint of sourness that refreshes (it reminded me of something, but I couldn't quite pinpoint what), I decided to steam some, tossing it with a little olive oil and salt, to accompany my dinner.


After only one serving, I can't say that it's my new favorite vegetable, but it's growing on me. (Not literally, of course.) I may consider using the rest in a saute of other vegetables, or I might just have a salad. Who knows?

I can't believe how exciting it's been to visit the farmers' market this year and find some unusual items worth a try, and I'm looking forward to trying other things this year, like ground cherries (they've been available before, but I've yet to try them). I'm also delighted with the number of farmers and vendors who are willing to take a chance on bringing some of these less familiar items for people to try.

I wonder what tomorrow will bring?

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