Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Put purslane back on the plate

The lettuce at Sunshine Farm has gone by for the season, but that doesn't mean I go without greens when we arrive for an early autumn visit. Instead I enjoy the taste, texture and amazing nutritional profile of purslane. Too often overlooked as a common weed, purslane is a superfood packed with omega-3s and antioxidants.

This peppery plant has a rich culinary history in countries such as Greece, China, Mexico and India, its original home. Here in America, purslane was standard fare in Colonial kitchen gardens before it declined into obscurity.

Due to its wild pluckiness, purslane isn't something my parents need to cultivate in their organic gardens. Instead, the low-growing succulent reseeds itself between the rows. In the photo above, you can see some of it growing in my dad's garden, with the strawberry patch, the Honeymoon Cottage and the Middle Cottage in the background.

Purslane is so tenacious, it even grows between the sidewalk bricks in downtown Portland.

During our most recent time at the farm, I paired fresh purslane with my long-time, go-to veggie burgers. It's an easy to prepare meal that goes well with a range of toppings, including superfoods masquerading as weeds. Pick some, you'll see.

Chick-n-Rice Burgers

16 oz. cooked chickpeas
3 cups cooked brown rice
12 0z. tomato paste
1 medium onion, diced
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. dried dill
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. xanthan gum
salt & pepper to taste

In a large bowl, mash chickpeas with a potato ricer. Add rice, tomato paste, onions and spices. Blend together with a wooden spoon. Form mixture into patties and cook on an oiled skillet over medium heat. Cook until brown on both sides. Serve with burger toppings - especially purslane!. Makes 10 burgers.

Make Ahead: The burgers hold together on the grill much better after being refrigerated, so if you have the time this is the way to go. Form a handful of the mixture into a patty and place it on top of a square of waxed paper inside a food storage container. Place a piece of waxed paper on top and then add another burger and another piece of paper. Repeat until mixture is gone.

Vegetable Hash: If you're not in the mood for burgers, you can saute the burger mixture in a skillet like you would a hash. Serve it browned and crispy as a breakfast dish or rolled inside a warm tortilla with your favorite Tex-Mex toppings.


Kate. said...

Yes! That stuff is so hard to get out of the garden! I'll just have to change my tactic and start eating it!

Lovlie said...

Never had purslane before. Maybe I've seen it but don't know what it is! Does it taste like watercress? It has similar appearance.

Meg Wolff said...

This burger looks great. I'll try the recipe as I was just thinking I need a good one.

Loved your article on the Common Ground Fair. Thanks for giving it some press before it happens!

It is definitely the best of Maine and Maine's Best Fare, I mean Fair!