Thursday, September 24, 2020

What happened to purslane season? (Or coveting my neighbor's purslane)

This year purslane (verdolagas) season was delayed due to the lack of monsoon rains. I was disappointed when we didn't get our usual "alleyway buffet."  But just down the street, I found this fine patch of purslane growing around a palm tree that our neighbor was over-watering. It was the good stuff too! The yummy variety with the tear shaped leaves. 
From previous discussions with our neighbor, I knew it was safe to harvest them since they didn't use any herbicides in their yard and they had given me permission to pick them in the past. 
There were so many! So I pulled a big bunch by the roots so I could plant some in our yard. 

When I got back to the house, I removed the other weeds and grass and placed the purslane roots down in a bowl of water to keep them fresh. 
I used the tender leaves and stems for days in every dish I could think of. Here are a few favorites...

I chopped up a bunch of purslane and I stirred in a tablespoon of pesto. I added some corn for color. Then I spread it on some tomato foccacia and grated some parmesan on top. Baked it for a few minutes for a quick easy dinner.  Yum! 
 

 
 

 


















I had some homemade marinara sauce (that I made from the crate of tomatoes that Produce on Wheels rescued from going to the landfill.) I just added a handful of purslane while I was heating up the sauce for a fast lunch. The purslane made the sauce even more healthy and delicious! 


Meanwhile in our front yard....

It finally rained so we got some round-leafed horse purslane. Unfortunately, this variety is less palatable. It irrigates my throat like raw spinach does. So I have to cook it. While the tear-shaped purslane is tasty raw.


But I had gotten spoiled by all the good purslane in my neighbors yard,  so I went back for more. But this time I gleaned in style with this cute basket! 
To thank them, I went ahead and pulled some undesirable weeds that I knew they didn't want in their yard. It's important to know your neighbor and their preferences. 
Did I mention that I planted some purslane in the basin by our loquat tree? Taking a lesson from volunteers, I planted them around the areas where I water anyway. Say, maybe you've noticed some in your garden bed. Good for you! You can harvest them too! Nothing like free food!
And they grew fine...


Unfortunately, the lizards like it too. They ate every last one of them! (Couldn't get a pic of the little rascals...)

Meanwhile, back in the neighbor's yard...the purslane patch continued to grow - despite having to share it now. What's up, Doc? The neighbor lady said that I could have the ones in front, but leave the rest for the cute little bunny.

There was plenty, so I made more of our favorite purslane dishes. Here I put purslane coated with pesto, tomatoes, olives and mozzarella on some lavash. (Helpful hint: I cook the lavash on one side before adding the toppings and then bake it until the cheese is melted and the lavash is crispy.)
Getting sick of recipes with pesto? Hey! We had pesto left in our fridge! 

OK...Here's a new favorite....A sweet potato and purslane breakfast burrito! 

While I cooked a medium sweet potato in the microwave, I sauteed half an onion. I cut the sweet potato into cubes and browned them with the onions and some purslane. Then I scrambled in three eggs. 

In another pan, I cooked some purslane in tomatillo sauce. The sourness of the tomatillo compliments the citrus flavor of the purslane. (You can also use green chili sauce.)

I wrapped the sweet potato scramble in a flour tortilla and poured the sauce on the top. Then I crumbled some queso fresco on that to temper the sour flavor.  The sweetness of the sweet potato goes surprisingly well with the sour sauce!
Remember how I said that volunteer purslane pops up in the basins where I already water? Well, we FINALLY got some of the good stuff in the basin around our jujube trees! Yeah! 


I try to harvest the purslane while it is still tender, before it gets big and woody. I get it before the little flowers form and it goes to seed. 

If you cut the tops off, it will grow back and give you more to harvest later! 


But we're not the only ones who like them. The lizards and birds prefer the good purslane too.  I watched as this dove walked right past the horse purslane and pecked the seeds off the good stuff.


One time I was picking in the neighbor's yard and the son came out and mentioned that there was purslane growing in his mom's hanging plants. I guess the birds spread them up there!  

A few weeks later I found this on our front porch! Thank you, kind neighbor!  These already had little yellow flowers. I'm hoping birds will help spread them around our yard! 


I did pick a few... 

I washed them over our dish pan to catch the little black seeds. Then I  poured them where I want them to grow in our yard. (In this case, Dan suggested that I pour them into our jujube basin. The roots help make the basin more permeable when it rains. It also decreases erosion in the basin. Working with the wood-chip mulch, it creates a sponge to hold the water longer. How awesome is that!) 


I also tried something new... I had some pickling liquid left, so I put the purslane in there.


I'll let you know how it goes...


For another favorite purslane recipe:

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