Purslane, Now You Know

26 July 2012

Guess what vegetable has the most omega-3 fatty acids (especially alpha-linolenic acid or ALA and ofeicosapentaenoic acid or EPA.) Here's a hint you've probably pulled it out of the cracks in your driveway. Give up? Portulaca oleracea or Purslane (pay not attention to it's other common name "pusley" sometimes people just go off the deep end.) Instead pay attention to the fact that there is evidence that these omega 3's might just help with inflammation, cardiovascular disease, depression, cognitive disorders, schizophrenia and ADHD. Not too mention that the next best way to get these benefits is to eat fish oil! I'll take the purslane thanks.

Purslane also has several strongly anti-oxidant pigments that may help prevent cancer and plenty of vitamins A, B and C. Plus lots of iron, magnesium, calcium and potassium. It does also have some oxalic acid (the same stuff in spinach that makes your teeth feel rough) which can cause kidney stones, but if you're ok with spinach you should be taking a very different look at the stuff between the cracks in your driveway.

Purslane is typically viewed as a weed and efforts are made to eradicate it. It's not native here and is somewhat invasive, but once you realize that it is so nutritious things you can eat it's hard to feel so bad about that. David Chen of Zoe's Garden in Layton grows a few varieties which he says he must re-seed every year, so maybe less invasive than the stuff in your driveway.

As with so many of the plants we overlook here, purslane has a long a varied history as a food and a medicine throughout much of the rest of the world. The list of ailments it has been used to treat is almost as long as the number of ways it's been prepared as food. It's ever so slightly slimy like okra, but not enough to put anyone off and the flavor is mildly, pleasantly sour. It's got a nice crisp crunch and is a perfect alternative to industrially grown romaine in a basic greek salad...

Purslane Greek Salad

1 pound purslane, large stems removed.

4 ounces Feta

3 Tablespoons Olive Oil

1 Tablespoon Red Wine Vinegar

Sliced Tomatoes and or Cucumbers, Red onion & Oregano to taste

Salt and Pepper to taste