If you read my other blog at all, you may recall that a couple of months ago my small garden was overcome by a nasty weed. I had some issues identifying this weed, but thanks to my good blogfriend Karen, who took it upon herself to contact an Edmonton greenhouse, I was able to find out the name of the bane of my existence. It was portulaca, AKA common purslane.
After identification, all of a sudden all kinds of people were telling me how nutritious this plant is, with it's high Omega-3 content and other wonderful vitamins and minerals. My friend E, who comes from the southern US, said she remembers putting purslane on salads when she was a child. Another blogfriend of mine even found me a potato salad recipe containing purslane.
I didn't want to hear it! All I wanted was for the purslane to disappear from my life - and my garden! I hold it responsible for the death of my chives, the non-appearance of the onions I planted, and the removal of a couple of marigold plants! Not only that, it's herbicide resistant, and though I wouldn't want to use any nasty chemicals in my garden, I also got very sick and tired of picking this weed. With my gravely soil and the smallness of the plant, not to mention the fact that it was everywhere, it was a major pain in the ass. It made me bitter and resentful, and I eventually gave up the weeding and almost gave up the garden altogether.
And then, lo and behold, the weeding I had done appeared to have controlled the purslane somewhat. I went out after neglecting the garden for a week or two, and I saw that the patches I'd weeded were now portulaca-free. In some spots, I purposely let it grow where I knew it wouldn't harm an already robust plant (like my rosemary and beans, for instance). The other day, I saw that it actually has tiny yellow flowers.
Then, I see that the August 2008 issue of Gourmet has a recipe for Purslane and Parsley Salad. This made me do a double take. I don't know why, but it did. Now, I don't like tomatoes, cherry or otherwise, and you might have read about the lemon juice shortage. I also don't like parsley enough to have it make up the bulk of a salad, and I don't have 6 cups of purslane in my garden anymore (I should have harvested and bagged the stuff to sell at the farmers' market for God's sake - a great missed opportunity on my part!). So, in short, no I did not make this salad from Gourmet magazine. But, I did decide to get wild and crazy and go out and pick some of the purslane to see what it tastes like.
The exeperiment: purslane three ways.
1. Purslane plain. Crisp, juicy, but somewhat tart, kind of like an unripe berry. My purslane isn't very big, though. Perhaps if I let it get bigger, it might sweeten up a bit. But, I don't want it getting any bigger!
2. Purslane with dip. This was much better, but only because of the dip. It disguised any tartness. Like many veggies we see displayed on platters, they are merely a means of getting lovely, creamy dip into our mouths, right? Such was the case with this part of the experiment.
3. Purslane with freshly ground sea salt. Meh.
The verdict: I'm not about to start cultivating purslane/portulaca for culinary uses. In fact, I hope to eradicate it fully from my garden next year by laying down mulch when I put the garden to bed for the winter.