I first read about purslane in a book about smoothies that I received for my birthday this summer.
In her book, Boutenko writes about the benefits of having variety among the greens that we include in our diets. Rotating the green leafy vegetables that you consume has an evolutionary purpose which she explains aptly in the beginning of her book. One of the suggested greens in the beginner smoothies section is purslane, a weed that is common to North American gardens and lawns. In the spirit of varying my leafy greens, I decided to give it a try.
Unfortunately it was not that easy to do. I do not have a yard and therefore do not grow purslane (neither intentionally nor accidentally). It seems that the only thing I am growing on my small bit of property on the second floor of a Richmond apartment is balcony squirrels. They have nested in the rafters above my balcony and I have had little success keeping anything else alive in the small patch of sunshine outside my glass-paned door. I kept an eye out for purslane at the grocery store and the farmers’ market for weeks, and then one day I found it at the SOTJ farmers’ market. I snatched the last bag of it – can you believe it?!
Even less believable is the fact that I paid $2 for a few handfuls of a common weed. Most avid gardeners might pay me to pluck this out of their yards, but here I am forking over my cash for a parcel of the über-healthy greens.
Purslane is a better source of omega-3 fatty acids than any other leafy plant.
Think about that for a minute. Homeowners across America are going to the drugstore to pick up their expensive fish oil supplements and then heading home to eradicate purslane, an excellent source of omega-3′s, from their own backyards. Maybe not in that exact order, but still. Crazy. Purslane is also rich in beta-carotene, vitamin E, and vitamin C. I was pumped to try out this superfood in my own kitchen.
Peach Purslane Smoothie
I had to take a cue from the book that brought this power-packed plant to my attention, and try it out in a smoothie. I first tasted it raw, as I often do with new ingredients. I had read that has a fresh but bitter taste like watercress. Another source described it as lemony with a peppery kick. When I popped a few leaves in my mouth, I tasted grass. And that was about it. A little disappointing, but I was not deterred.
I mixed in a blender: purslane, frozen mango, water, and fresh peach.
This time it tasted peachy – with a hint of grass. But hey, what do you expect from a green smoothie? It tasted like health food but it tasted good. Kyle and I enjoyed it, however I don’t know if it’s for everyone. Good news though: my second preparation of purslane showed crowd-pleasing potential.
Purslane Potato Salad
I didn’t measure exactly – sorry! I have tried to approximate the proportion of ingredients below. This mixture was quite a hit.
Cut one pound of red potatoes into 1-inch pieces. Cook potatoes in salted boiling water until tender. While the potatoes cook, chop 2-3 green onions and a bunch of purslane (about one cup). Add the juice of one large lemon to 1/3 cup of olive oil in a medium bowl and whisk until mixed. To the dressing, add the onions and purslane. Drain the potatoes and cool. Add the potatoes to the bowl and season to taste with salt and black pepper. Chill at least a few hours before serving.
And we have a winner!
This potato salad was sweet, sour, tangy, and smooth. All of the elements combined to make this a refreshing side to our meal. We had this potato salad alongside marinated roasted vegetable stacks with fresh basil and ricotta and warm sungold tomatoes.
This is the dish that will keep me paying $2 for a handful of weeds. One woman’s trash is another woman’s treasure.