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August 11, 2005

Purslane

Purslane.jpgEve asked about purslane (Portulaca oleracea). I use it in salad. Just wash, pinch into manageable lengths the way you would watercress, stems and all. The stems are succulent, tart, and edible, even when thick. You can pickle the stems, a old tradition. Pickled Purslane Stems: 1 cup white vinegar. 2 cups of cold water, ¼ cup salt, ½ teaspoon alum. Place on the bottom of each of two pint jars flower of dill, clove of garlic, and a small red pepper. Pack jars with fat tender purslane stems, not too tight. Fill jars with liquid and seal. Store in a dark place for one month before using. Do not leave for too long. Some recipes call for apple cider vinegar.

Or add purslane to potato salad. The farmer from whom I bought purslane at the Greenmarket said that the Mexican women who pick for him much prefer gathering purslane, which grows wild and is considered a weed, to harvesting the greens he actually plants. He said they love purslane, which they call vergolaga. Add to omelets, cook like you would spinch or watercress, add to soups and stews, or roll up in a tortilla.

I first encountered purslane in Jerusalem at Eucalyptus, famous for its traditional Jerusalem cuisine. The Iraqi chef-owner, Moshe Basson, gathers wild greens and herbs from the hills around the city, precisely the foods that sustained Jerusalemites during times of siege.

Betty Fusssell offers lovely recipes for purslane, which, incidentally, is a powerhouse of nutrients, most famously omega-3. More recipes here.

Posted by BKG at August 11, 2005 08:38 AM

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