Last week at the market, I was introduced to a green called purslane. I had never heard of it before, but when I tasted it, the green’s flavors and juiciness caught me by surprise. Its thick leaves have a tart yet lemony-sweet taste unlike the flavor of any green I have ever eaten.

Background and nutritional info:

Purslane was, and still is, considered a pesky weed, but it is documented to have been eaten for the past 2,000 years, including by the ancient Egyptians, Romans and Greeks. Presently, it is making a comeback because of its high nutrient density. This succulent plant is an extremely richsource of potassium, magnesium, and calcium. It is also high in antioxidants, which are agents that fight free radicals that harm our cells. In addition, purslane is the plant source with the highest amount of alpha-linolenic acid, an essential omega-3 fatty acid that assists with brain function. If you are vegan or vegetarian, the good news is that purslane is another option for getting those precious omega-3s without resorting to eating fish!

Where to find it:

Although it is almost impossible to find at a grocery store, a couple of vendors at the Kalamazoo Farmers Market, such as Eichorn Family Farm and Bonamego Farms, sell it for only $2-3 dollars per bunch. Nutritionally dense and affordable? It can’t get much better!

What to look for:

Look for stems and leaves that are firm and fleshy. Avoid purslane that has spots or looks limp or dry. Store in a jar with a bit of water for up to a few days (unfortunately, purslane’s shelf life isn’t very long. But it’s so tasty that I’m certain you’ll eat it all up anyway).

Purslane Salad with Grilled Corn and Creamy Avocado Dressing

Ingredients:

For the dressing-

·         1 avocado

·         1 cup plain yogurt

·         1/2 red onion, chopped

·         3 tablespoon fresh squeezed lime juice

·         2 tablespoons olive oil

·         1 clove garlic, smashed and minced

·         1 tablespoon Italian parsley or cilantro

·         1/2 teaspoon sea salt

·         1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

·         1/2 teaspoon sriracha (optional)

For the salad-

·         1 bunch purslane

·         2 ears of corn, grilled

·         1/2 red onion, sliced paper thin

·         pinch sea salt

·         fresh ground pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. To make dressing, combine all of the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Check salt and acid levels and adjust as needed. Refrigerated, dressing will keep well for several days.
  2. To assemble salad, wash purslane and trim of any large stems. If desired, you can tear stems into bite-sized lengths to eat along with the leaves. Meanwhile, husk grilled corn, if needed, and cut kernels off the cob. Toss purslane, corn, and red onion together with a pinch of sea salt in a large salad bowl. Drizzle with dressing, and turn to coat. Drizzle a bit more dressing on top and finish with lots and lots of fresh ground pepper.