What The Hell Is Purslane?

Apr 18, 2012 11:31 am

Salad fatigue? Over kale? Try portulaca leaves.

purslane
Photo: D.Eickhoff on Flickr
Purslane salads, made with portulaca leaves, will get you out of your leafy greens rut. There's only so much kale you can eat.
 

Last night's launch party for Fatty Crab and 'Cue king Zak Pelaccio's new book, Eat With Your Hands, was a hit. Woods played two sets, one folktastic and one psychedelic jam that could have gone on forever. The crowd systematically took down an extra-large stockpot of Black Grouse and prosecco-spiked punch, a 200-pound barbecued pig (see its head here) and mountains of garlic-sriracha mayo and sardine sandwiches. Then the afterparties happened. And now we're all hurting. Regular greens won't detox this after-after party. I'm seeking out purslane.

What is purslane? Maybe a pesky and persistent weed that the unknowing mow down and discard. Maybe the greatest and hardest-to-find leafy green I've ever known. If you can't beat 'em, eat 'em. If I found it growing wild, I'd stick the fork I keep in my pocket at all times right in the ground and enjoy myself a little hippie salad. It has a succulent texture, almost like a snap pea, with a grassy, peppery flavor like watercress. If you encounter it in a sandwich, salad, Asian stir-fry, Middle Eastern or Mexican stew, that is the dish you must order.

My friend Martha Rose Shulman, who makes sure New York Times readers are happy and healthy, laments, "I’ve been hard pressed to find these neglected greens in American markets, despite the fact that they’re nutritious, versatile and popular in many of the world’s cuisines." When she does find them, her purslane salad has been known to cure even the most stalwart hangovers, with its whopping dose of omega-3s, vitamins and minerals.

We're heading out to the W Austin for the Austin Food & Wine Festival in just over a week, and I'm sincerely hoping TRACE forager Valerie Broussard can school me in the art of locating and preparing purslane. Because right now, I'm just that crazy chick who's still a little drunk from last night pulling up random weeds in an abandoned lot hoping something tastes good. But hopefully by lunchtime I'll be in better shape than that.

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