This being the height of summer, I figured it's time for my annual purslane post. Longtime readers will know that I am obsessed with purslane, which is perhaps my favorite green vegetable. Put simply, purslane is a tasty, succulent vegetable with a high omega-3 fatty acid content, and it is largely considered a weed because it is ubiquitous. Purslane thrives in the summer heat because it employs a water-conserving CAM photosynthetic pathway, much like cacti do. When other plants wither and die, purslane grows with abandon.
My big problem is that most of the really gorgeous purslane plants I have encountered this year are poking through cracks in the sidewalk, exposed not only to car exhaust but to the pee of passing pooches. I mean, look at this bounty, which might be tainted by nitrogenous waste:
Purslane seeds being tiny, the ability of the plant to germinate in tiny cracks has been celebrated in song, as a metaphor for surviving in adverse conditions. Here is a small purslane plant peeking out of a miniscule crack in the asphalt alleyway next to my house:
Yeah, I can hardly figure out how that happened myself, and I am a purslane-obsessive.
This year, I decided to do something I have never done before, because it smacks of cheating- I actually picked a small purslane plant from one of the gardens on the job and decided to plant it intentionally, so it might eventually rival that succulent looking sidewalk purslane plant:
Typically, I eat purslane raw, it has a crisp, succulent texture that I think it would be sinful to lose by cooking (cooking it results in a slightly mucilaginous texture, sorta like okra). It's tart, though less tart if picked in the early morning due to the role of acids in the CAM photosynthetic pathway. The plant does contain oxalate, so I make sure to drink plenty of water when I consume it (no biggie on a hot summer day), and prefer to serve it with a high-calcium component such as yogurt or queso fresco.