“I Just Ate A Weed!”

“I Just Ate A Weed!”

I have to admit it was a first for me. After dinner, we were playing out on the driveway with the kids. I leaned over, pointed to a weed growing from the cracks in the concrete and said, “hey, we ate this for dinner!”

I don’t think my husband was impressed.

Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t go out and forage for dinner (though that would have been pretty cool actually, as there are a host of healthful wild edibles), but I did decide to be adventurous at the farmer’s market. A farmer was selling his “magic mix”–a handful of chard, a handful of nasturtium leaves and a handful of purslane (this is the “weed.”) “Chop and saute for 2 minutes–it’s the perfect side dish,” he said.

I also remembered hearing about purslane’s great health benefits. Purslane contains more Omega-3 fatty acids–especially alpha-linolenic acid–than any other leafy vegetable. It also contains an extraordinary amount of EPA for a land-based vegetable source.

Purslane is a succulent herb–which means it pulls moisture from the ground and holds it in its leaves and stems. This is good news from an eating standpoint; it means purslane is juicy. It can be used raw in salads or cooked like spinach.

I was intrigued. So, we had dinner with a side of weeds, um, I mean, purslane. It didn’t have a strong or “weedy” taste; the steams added some nice crunch, and the saute had a pleasant, acidic note (almost as if I had added some vinegar or lemon juice to balance out the other flavors, though I hadn’t).

That was two summers ago. And, I’m still eating purslane. I didn’t find any at the farmer’s markets last year, and just couldn’t pull it up from the side of the road, knowing how many pollutants it had likely come into contact with.

But, this summer, I lucked out. Purslane is one of those weeds that typically pops up where the soil has been disturbed–building sites, tilled gardens, and the like. I was at my parents’ farm and, sure enough, there was a lovely bumper crop in the garden, in a spot which had been turned over, but never planted with anything else.

“I’m making you weeds for supper,” I told everyone, tickled pink.

Much like I had that first time, I cleaned and chopped the purslane (I prefer to only chop part of the edible reddish stems so I have a proportion of about 75% leaves to 25% stems), and sauteed it over medium heat in a combination of butter and olive oil until tender, which only takes a few minutes.

I was craving a Mediterranean flavor, so I added some crumbled feta, chopped olives and bit of roasted red pepper, as well as salt and pepper.

It was a hit. In fact, my dad (not even a much of a leafy greens fan) asked my mom to keep making it for him this summer, until the plants died back.

I came home to find purslane plants sprouting in the raised vegetable bed that my husband had recently harvested our first garlic crop from.

“Don’t pull them out!” I exhorted.

“Okay, okay,” he said.

He doesn’t even bat an eye these days…

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