Verdolaga is the name of a winter green I found at a stall in the produce terminal on Airline. At first, I thought it was watercress. Since I had never eaten verdolaga before, I bought a bunch for a dollar and a half and took it home along with a little bag of chile pequins, some cleaned and chopped nopales cactus pads, and some fresh fava beans.
Seems like there’s always some cool stuff to discover at the Mexican-style market stalls behind Canino’s--they’re probably cheaper than the big fruit and vegetable store too, but people prefer Canino’s because you can buy any amount you want instead of the one dollar baskets or two dollar baskets offered at the stalls. But Canino’s is closed for remodeling at the moment, so the stalls behind the store are currently the only place to shop.
When I got my greens home, I looked them up and discovered that verdolaga is the Spanish name for a common garden weed known as purslane or pigweed in English. It is widely eaten in the Middle East both in salads and cooked like spinach. It has a reputation for curative powers going back to the ancient Greeks. It’s extremely good for you, in fact, purslane has more Omega-3 fatty acids than any other vegetable plant.
I found a simple recipe for purslane and parsley salad from Gourmet magazine that called for nothing more than the washed leaves, some cherry tomatoes and a simple vinaigrette and whipped a salad together for lunch. I found the flavor lemony with a mild mineral aftertaste. One of my lunchmates thought the purslane had an “earthy flavor.” I am thinking it might taste better in an omelet. The lady at the vegetable stall said to cook it with beef.
Anybody have a purslane recipe they want to share?
-- Robb Walsh
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