It may be hard to keep anything alive with the relentless heat of summer, but one likely survivor is probably also a seemingly unwelcome guest: verdolaga, more commonly known as purslane. This wild succulent is just itching to be picked, and dumped not in the garbage, but onto your plate. Get your gardening hat on and some scissors, and get foraging.
Call it verdolaga, purslane, or pigweed, think of this edible garden nuisance as a nuisance no more, and rather as a way to skip the nutritional supplements. Each cup of the young plush leaves contains more potassium than a banana, more omega 3 than any other leafy green, more vitamin A than spinach, and with a healthy dose of vitamin C and B-complex vitamins to boot.
Good for you benefits aside, purslane has a unique taste and texture worthy of trying. It is both crunchy and juicy, with an almost gel-like consistency. It's flavor is close to that of watercress, but stick to the tender young leaves and stems of the plant, as the thicker mature stems can be bitter. Purslane flowers are also edible, and range from yellow to pink.
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Several Valley chefs have been using locally grown purslane in salads for years, sourced from the likes of Maya Dailey of Maya's Farm, so follow their example and substitute bland greens with picked purslane in a salad or in a sandwich, add it at the very end of a quick stir fry, or add it to your juicing routine.
Thankfully, for those with purslane in their backyard and a new addiction to it, purslane is a prolific plant, no need to worry about your supply until the weather turns cold. If you're not so lucky as to have some growing at home, find it at a local farmers market, or in the specialty section of your local Mexican grocery store's produce department. To keep it fresh in the fridge, place the stem ends into a glass of water.
As proprietor of Muñeca Mexicana handcrafted food, Minerva Orduno Rincon makes everything from mole poblano to goat milk caramel to spiced (not spicy) cocoa. She's taking a summer break from farmers markets, but she'll be back in the fall.