Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Purslane: Pernicious Weed or Ultimate Superfood?

Wait for it.

It's BOTH! What is regarded as an invasive weed by some (one website claims it to be the seventh most pervasive weed worldwide, though I have been unable to substantiate that from other sources) is hailed elsewhere as an easy-to-cultivate, low-calorie source of high levels of several important nutrients, including more Omega-3 fatty acids than any other land-based edible.

Here is a very informative article from local NYC naturalist and foraging fanatic "Wildman" Steve Brill on how to identify purslane in the wild, or if your thing is to gather in the more traditional NYC way, you can simply trade one thin dollar for a good sized bunch at the Paffenroth Garden stand--which has become my go-to purveyor of freaky greens.

Whether purchased or collected, purslane is going to be filthy (ref. above photo--which isn't nearly as bad as usual, don't you think?). I suggest washing just a couple of stems at a time under running water for a little longer than you think they'll need, then visually inspect them to make sure you got all the dirt. Basically, wash them like leeks.

Since they're succulents (like aloe, cactus, and jade plants) I thought the salad spinner would probably bruise them, so I just spread them out on a towel as best I could and ran some errands. If you're in a hurry, very gently whipping them against something absorbent--as a pixie might beat a rug--would probably do the trick.

Now the purslane is clean and dry, it's time to play!

And on that note, I'm going to leave you hanging. Last night I took a food blogging seminar at ICE with Andrea Strong (omg!!) and she made a sensible case for frequent posting. I was concerned about the . . . expansiveness of my weekly posts going into the seminar, so the logical resolution is for me to shut up now and save telling you what I did with my clean, dry purslane for another day. Like maybe tomorrow.

Oh, except a bit more about the class. Unfortunately, the day of our married-to-the-Internet seminar, ICE lost its Internet connection. Fortunately, Andrea (omg!!) and her web designer Harvey Kreisworth were so knowledgeable, engaging, and generous (believe me, they let us pick their brains like they were the paramedics in Return of the Living Dead--it was awesome) that I really felt like I got my money's worth anyway.

Then BONUS! This afternoon I got an e-mail from Kristin James, program manager of the recreational division of ICE, apologizing for the Internet problems and offering to let me either take Andrea's seminar again for free, or apply the full credit to another class--my choice. Seriously, class is the word for that move. And I am SO looking forward to my comped knife skills!!

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