News From the Farm | July 20, 2015

We put an unusual plant, purslane, in our CSA boxes two weeks ago — well the plant itself isn’t unusual, but it’s not one of those things that find its way to your plate all that often, so it was definitely a culinary challenge!  We aren’t going to put it in again this year I don’t think, but we got so many fun comments as a result, that I decided to share some of them.

Here’s an example: “There was something in our box not this past Wednesday but the one before, that I have no idea what it is, nor how to prepare/cook it! I looked at the website and was still miffed. It looks like a small shrub that was pulled out of the ground dirt and roots and all and if I was to describe it, it looks a bit like something in the cactus family. It is green…” Another member said, “The purslane, for me, was not a winner. I think it was a bit too on the mature side.” 

Many people shared their recipes, for example, the following note was from a member who picks up at our Cornell site in Berkely:  “Thank you for the lovely, lovely purslane. I enjoyed it all week in various salads such as a Turkish yogurt salad and also putting it in tomato, cucumber, onion salad. It is a wonderful addition. However my favorite way of eating it is from a recipe I saw years ago in the NY Times called Russian Potato Salad with Dill and Purslane. Too bad the last potatoes were the week before the purslane! I pick my veggies up fairly early in the AM at Cornell street, and even by the time I got there, 2 people had left their purslane. I know that not everyone loves it, but we who love it hope that you continue to include it. I have never gotten it more than once a year, and some years not at all! So that really isn’t very much.”

We will put the recipe for Russian Potato Salad with Dill and Purslane  on our web site so that the next time (probably not until next year) we put purslane in the CSA boxes, there will be several recipes to choose from.  Here are a few more comments from members:

“I was surprised to see an enormous bunch of what I grew up in Saskatchewan thinking was a weed called ‘portulaca’ in our box last week.  The newsletter called it purslane, so I looked it up online and discovered that portulaca is its scientific name, and that it grows wild in many parts of the world.  I’m sure we would have eaten gobs of it if my mother had known it was not only edible, but healthy!  I threw most of the leaves into a minestrone one night, and it was delicious!  The few leaves left over went into a pasta primavera a few days later, and that worked too!  Thanks for stretching my culinary exploits yet again!

“I’d never really had purslane before we got it in the box this week. I tried the soup in the Beet and it was ok, but I found other recipes in Mediterranean Grains and Greens by Paula Wolfert.  Do you have this in the farm cookbook stash? If not, I can send my copy if you want – I’m trimming my cookbook collection. It has 2-3 purslane recipes.”

There’s definitely a balance between stretching the culinary comfort zone versus making it easy for a busy family to get dinner on the table quickly on a school and work night.  Here at Full Belly we always hope to strike that balance, but the purslane experiment definitely had us falling back on one of our favorite Full Belly sayings: “Every time you try something new, you live a day longer!”

–Judith Redmond