Purslane

native to: India and Iran
in season here: summer

Also called pigweed, verdolago, or little hopweed, Portulaca oleracea is often considered a weed around here — or at best, a readily available green mulch. It’s tolerant of both drought and poor soil. Leaves, smaller stems, and flower buds appear in many Asian and European cuisines, especially South Indian dishes. It can be eaten raw in salads, stir-fried, or curried. It is often compared to arugula or spinach and can be used similarly.

Purslane is higher in omega-3 fatty acids than some fish oils, making it popular among vegans. In fact, it’s generally considered to be the richest cultivated plant source of omega-3s, rivaled only by certain wild greens like molokhia and stamnagathi. It has plenty of vitamins A, C, E, and some Bs; its mineral offerings include iron, magnesium, calcium, and potassium. It’s an excellent source of anti-oxidants and a particularly good source of alpha-linolenic acid, which has been linked to coronary health and general longevity. Along with amaranth, lamb’s quarters greens, watercress, and lettuce, purslane is one of the richest herbal sources of anti-depressant substances.

Purslane doesn’t keep very well, which may be why it’s so hard to find, especially for those who lack a good farmers’ market. It starts to lose nutrition as soon as it’s harvested, so the fresher you can eat it, the better. It spreads readily, making some gardeners reluctant to grow their own, but it can be grown in containers to help control it (just don’t let it go to seed). It also makes a good microgreen.

It should be noted that purslane is a source of oxalic acid and should be avoided or eaten with caution by those susceptible to calcium-oxalate kidney stones or urinary issues such as bladder stones, or with other oxalic acid concerns. Pregnant women are also commonly advised to avoid purslane, which promotes uterine contractions and can cause miscarriage.

Read more:
label-style nutrition information for raw purslane
label-style nutrition information for cooked purslane
Health With Food
Natural Health Solutions

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Sweet & sour onions with golden raisins

1 lb. small red or white onions, trimmed
3 Tbsp. olive oil
2 garlic cloves
small piece fresh hot pepper, to taste
2 Tbsp. honey
2 cloves
1 bay leaf
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup water
1/4 cup golden raisins (sultanas)
salt and pepper to taste

Blanch onions 1 minute; drain, rinse under cold water, and slip off skins. Heat garlic and pepper in oil until oil is hot, about 2 minutes. Add onions and saute until lightly golden, 8-10 minutes. Add honey, cloves, and bay leaf. Reduce heat and cook gently 2 min. Add remaining ingredients. Cover and simmer 20 min. Remove cover and simmer until juices reduce to a glaze, about 2 minutes. Remove pepper and bay leaf and adjust seasonings.

Adapted from: From the farmers’ market : wonderful things to do with fresh-from-the-farm food with recipes and recollections from farm kitchens / Richard Sax with Sandra Gluck. Harper & Row, c1986.

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Peach pie for dinner!

Chicken and peach pie
2-3 lb. chicken (best with skin and bones, which add flavor, but a smaller amount of skinless/boneless chicken can be used)
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 medium onion, peeled and sliced
2 ribs celery, in 2-inch pieces
1 leek with a little green, in 2-inch pieces
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
4 whole cloves
5 medium peaches (1 1/2 lb), peeled*, pitted, and sliced into bite-sized pieces
1/4 cup white wine
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 tsp. fresh ginger, peeled and minced
2 tsp. cornstarch dissolved in 1 Tbsp. cold water
1 egg beaten with 1 Tbsp. water (optional)
double pie crust for 9-10-inch pie pan

Rub the chicken all over with salt, pepper, and ginger. In a large pot, lightly brown chicken, onion, celery, and leek in oil over medium heat, about 15 minutes. Add stock and whole cloves; bring to a boil. Cover and simmer 1 1/4 hours. Remove chicken, reserving cooking liquid and vegetables, and cool slightly. Remove and discard skin and bones; cut chicken into bite-sized pieces. Mix meat with peaches, wine, garlic, ginger; cover and chill. Remove cloves from the cooking liquid and discard; puree liquid and vegetables. Chill (may quick-chill by freezing about 45 minutes) and skim off fat. Combine puree and cornstarch/water mixture, add to chicken, and stir until well-blended. Grease a 10 x 6 1/2 x 2-inch casserole or 9-10 x 2-inch round dish and line with 1/8 inch thick pie crust dough, leaving 1 1/2 inch overhang. Fill with chicken mixture. Top with second crust and seal with water. Pierce top and brush with egg if desired. Bake 30 min at 400F then lower oven to 350F and bake another 20 min. Allow to cool 10 min. before serving.

Adapted from: Cooking with fruit : the complete guide to using fruit throughout the meal, the day, the year / Rolce Redard Payne and Dorrit Speyer Senior. Wings Books, 1995.

*See following recipe for the easiest way to peel peaches.
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If you bought extra peaches (and who wouldn’t be tempted?) how about drying them for later snacking:

Oven-dried peaches
Blanch peaches in boiling water for a few seconds and quickly remove to cold water; skins should slip off easily. Halve and remove pits; cut into smaller pieces if desired. Optionally, place in acidulated water to prevent discoloration. Arrange pieces cut-side down on a wire rack over a foil-lined baking tray; place in a 225F oven, leaving door slightly ajar. Dry 24-36 hrs for halves, 12-16 hrs for quarters, 8-12 hrs for smaller pieces, turning pieces halfway through drying.

Adapted from: Preserving fruit : 101 essential tips / Oded Schwartz. DK Pub., 1998.

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What to do with favas

Pea Shoot Salad with Fava Beans
1 pound fava beans, shelled
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
4 oz. pea shoots
4 radishes, thinly sliced
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1 avocado, sliced lengthwise (optional)

Blanch the fava beans in boiling water no more than two minutes; immediately cool in ice water. Remove the beans’ outer skin, either by popping the bean out with your fingers or by paring the shell away. Whisk together olive oil and balsamic vinegar; season to taste. Toss pea shoots, radishes, and slivered almonds with the oil/vinegar mixture. Divide this salad mixture among as many as four plates; top with fava beans and avocado slices.

Adapted from food52.com (which must be based significantly south of us, since they seem to consider fava beans a spring vegetable).

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Fava-Mint Pesto
2 cups cleaned fava beans (about 2 lb. before removing pods and shells)
2 Tbsp. almonds, roughly chopped
2 anchovy fillets in oil, roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
6 Tbsp. lemon oil
1⁄4 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1⁄4 cup loosely packed mint leaves, thinly sliced
zest of 1 lemon, finely grated
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
salt to taste

Cook fava beans in boiling, salted water until bright green, about 30 seconds. Transfer to a bowl of ice water with a slotted spoon and let sit about a minute, until chilled. Drain and roughly chop. Pound the almonds, anchovies, and garlic in a mortar until evenly combined. Add 2 tablespoons of the lemon oil. Add fava beans and mash into a coarse purée. Stir in the remaining 4 tablespoons lemon oil, cheese, mint, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Adjust seasoning if needed.

Adapted from Saveur
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Two carrot recipes

Honey gingered carrots
6 carrots, cut into 2-inch slices
about 2 cups water
1 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh ginger root
grated zest of 1 orange, to taste
1 cup honey
1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh mint
salt, pepper to taste

In a saucepan, cover carrots with water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer about 5 min. Drain. Melt butter over med.-low heat. Add ginger, orange peel, honey, vinegar, and carrots. Toss and heat through, about 1 min. Remove from heat, add mint, and season to taste. Serve hot.

Adapted from: Expressions of home cookbook / Pamela King, editor. Watertown, WI : SPS, [2000?]

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Hot and Sour Carrots
1 lb. carrots, thinly sliced, boiled 5 minutes, drained
1/4 cup raisins
2 Tbsp. melted butter
2 Tbsp. honey
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 cup pine nuts or sliced almonds (optional)

Mix all ingredients except nuts in a quart baking dish. Bake at 375F for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the carrots are glazed. Garnish with pine nuts or sliced almonds.

Adapted from the e-Newsletter World Wide Recipes.

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Chocolate-Raspberry Frozen Yogurt Pops

2 cups fresh or frozen raspberries
2 cups plain Greek-style yoghurt
3-5 Tbsp. sugar, to taste
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Puree raspberries, yogurt, and sugar in a blender or food processor until smooth. Divide the mixture among freezer-pop molds or paper cups, stopping about 1 inch from the top. Divide chocolate chips among the molds and stir in, removing any air pockets at the same time. Insert sticks and freeze about 6 hours, until firm. Dip molds briefly in warm water to unmold, or tear paper cups from pops.

Adapted from eatingwell.com

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Apricot stuffed chicken

2 whole boneless chicken breast halves, with skin
1/2 cup dry stuffing mix
1/4 cup chopped onion
2 Tbsp. melted butter
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 lb. fresh apricots, halved (about 4)
1/2 cup apricot jam
1 Tbsp. cider vinegar

Place chicken skin side down and flatten slightly with a mallet. Combine stuffing mix, onion, butter, and 1/4 tsp. ginger; place in a strip along center of each breast half and top with apricot halves. Wrap chicken around filling; tie with string every two inches. Barbecue 15 minutes on a rack about 5-1/2 inches above medium-hot coals, turning once or twice. Mix apricot jam, vinegar, and remaining 1/4 tsp. ginger; brush over chicken rolls. Grill another 5-10 minutes, until done.

Adapted from California Apricots

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