Purslane, also known as Verdolaga, has transformed from a bothersome garden intruder into a valuable treasure! This exceptional plant is making a triumphant return to farmer’s markets and esteemed restaurants, presenting a fusion of health advantages and culinary satisfaction.
Once recognized under various aliases such as hogweed and pigweed, Purslane now emerges as a weed worth embracing. Esteemed as a superfood, it holds a significant place in the hearts of even notable figures like Mahatma Gandhi, and its popularity is on the rise once more.
Displaying its resilience, this plant breaks through pavement crevices, infiltrates gardens, and is even hailed as a “miracle plant” by Dr. Artemis Simopoulos, the head of the Centre for Genetics, Nutrition, and Health. During her tenure at the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Simopoulos uncovered that Purslane boasts the highest levels of Omega-3 fatty acids among all leafy greens.
With its succulent leaves shaped like teardrops, it delivers an abundance of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, establishing itself as a nutritional powerhouse. However, its merits don’t stop there—these leaves also impart a zesty, lemony taste with a touch of peppery zest. This description comes from none other than Sergio Vitale, the chef-owner of Aldo’s Ristorante Italiano in Chicago, who fondly recalls his experiences with Purslane while growing up in southern Italy.
Though early Americans, including Martha Washington, enjoyed Purslane both raw and pickled, its popularity dwindled in the early 1900s. Fortunately, in recent years, a revival of interest in this beneficial weed has been sparked by farmers, foragers, and innovative chefs.
When dealing with wild Purslane, meticulous washing is essential to eliminate any lingering pesticide residues. With its tangy and subtly salty profile, Purslane makes an excellent addition to salads and various dishes.
Here’s a simple recipe for you to explore: Purslane and Basil Pesto.
- 2 cups of young Purslane leaves and stems, rinsed and roughly chopped
- 45g of basil leaves, rinsed
- 1 clove of garlic
- 45g of toasted almonds
- Juice from half a lemon
- 50ml of olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Combine Purslane, basil, garlic, almonds, and lemon juice in a food processor.
- Pulse until the mixture is well combined.
- While the processor is running, gradually stream in the olive oil until the mixture emulsifies.
- Season with salt and pepper to your liking.
- Enjoy this flavorful pesto on toasted sandwiches, roasted vegetables, meat, or tossed with pasta.
Or you can eat the Pesto with:
Now, let’s delve into the nutritional benefits of Purslane:
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Purslane stands out as an exceptional plant-based source of these essential fatty acids, crucial for brain and heart health, particularly among vegans.
- Antioxidants: Abundant in antioxidants like glutathione, Purslane aids in shielding cells, combating damage, and decelerating the aging process.
- Minerals: Laden with noteworthy amounts of calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, phosphorus, manganese, copper, folate, and selenium, Purslane bridges gaps in the Standard American Diet, contributing to overall well-being.
- Vitamin C: An important source of this immunity-boosting vitamin, which plays a key role in maintaining a robust and resilient immune system.
- Beta-carotene: Packed with beta-carotene, Purslane serves as a precursor to vitamin A, addressing deficiencies that are common in many individuals.
- Melatonin: Unlike most plants, Purslane contains melatonin, a hormone essential for regulating sleep patterns, making it a valuable natural source.
- Cholesterol Reduction: Thanks to betalain, an antioxidant found in Purslane, it helps prevent cholesterol damage to blood vessels and positively influences LDL cholesterol levels.
- Tryptophan: Purslane contains tryptophan, a significant amino acid that aids in mood regulation and combats depression.
Embrace the marvels of Purslane and savor its medicinal and culinary merits. From its Omega-3 richness to its melatonin content, this versatile plant has a plethora to offer for both your well-being and your taste buds.
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