VERSATILE AND EASY TO INTRODUCE INTO EVERYDAY DISHES
I started to notice this little herb and give it some particular attention recently. Until then, I look at it the same way as most of you still look at it, like a simple weed without any use, more than that, like a plague that invades gardens. But I started to come across some articles and recipes that talked about purslane as a nutritionally rich food. That´s right, FOOD! So, my interest for this little “plague” has grown, and today it´s one of the plants that i love to eat the most.
Purslane, or Portulaca Oleracea, is a plant that is part of the UFPs club, Unconventional Food Plants. UFPs are wild plants that sprout spontaneously in plantations, gardens, forests, and even in more unusual places such as on the roadsides, for example. They are known for being easy-to-grow plants that do not require special treatment and in general are marginalized and seen as evasive.
The truth is that UFP´s are all plants that we could consume, but we don’t. Undervalued plants, because behind their humble appearance, they hide an unimaginable nutritional wealth, and in many cases have vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals rare to find in other foods. Purslane is a great example of that!
Known for being one of the biggest plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids, purslane is another proof that no one needs to eat fish to obtain this nutrient! Because they are so rich in omega-3s, they help to prevent the appearance of cardiovascular diseases as well as playing an important role on the cholesterol balance, not to mention its extreme importance for good brain function.
According to DGS, purslane “Raw is a source of vitamin C (21.0mg / 100g), potassium (494mg / 100g) and magnesium (68.0mg / 100g), also showing interesting values of iron (2.0mg / 100g). If cooked, they are a source of potassium (488mg / 100g) and magnesium (67.0mg / 100g), providing vitamins A (93µg / 100g) and C (10.5mg / 100g). ”
The vitamins and minerals that this little plant gives to us are so many and in such generous amounts that you can’t be indifferent after meet them. We started looking at this creeping herb with different eyes and recognize all its value, all its nutraceutical characteristics that make it so special.
Beside to all this, Purslane is also super versatile and easy to introduce into everyday dishes. In the Alentejo region (Portugal) they are widely known and consumed, in the famous Purslane Soup, for example, due to the fact that they grow abundantly in that region.
And for those of you who think Purslane has bitter or has an extremely acidic taste, you are wrong. Purslane has a delicate and soft flavor. Kids, grownups, everyone easily surrenders to the charm and delicacy of this plant. It can be eaten raw in salads, sandwiches or smoothies, or it can be cooked in many ways. It is fair to say that the sky is the limit and still exist a huge culinary potential to explore with this plant.
In addition to its enormous capacity to nourish us from within, it is also recognized for its topical treatment of insect bites, for example, as well as the treatment of problems such as acne, all due to its anti-inflammatory properties and skin cleanser function.
With fleshy and reddish stems, small and succulent leaves, this plant grows frequently in clayey soils, and it is possible to find it all over the planet. The origin region is still uncertain, but it is believed that it may have been in an arid climate as in North Africa. In Portugal it sprouts from April to December, mostly in the warmer months…
Now that you know Purslane a little better, when you see them peeking in your gardens you already know what to do, bring them to the kitchen and cook with them! I like to let develop the leafs well, to consume them when they are bigger, but you can consume it when you prefer.
Take advantage of what nature has to offer, what nature literally gives us to nourish and care of our body. We do not need to fetch exotic foods from the other side of the world, right alongside us we certainly have what we need. Our ancestors knew how to do it very well, we just have to recover that knowledge, bring it into our daily lives and apply it!
DUARTE, GISELE. (2017) TESE DE MESTRADO EM ECOLOGIA HUMANA E PROBLEMAS SOCIAIS CONTEMPORÂNEOS, LEVANTAMENTO E CARACTERIZAÇÃO DAS PLANTAS ALIMENTÍCIAS NÃO CONVENCIONAIS DO PARQUE FLORESTAL DE MONSANTO –LISBOA, CAPÍTULO 1