Purslane has become a darling of haute cuisine, despite its reputation as a weed.
The stems, leaves and flower buds of this leafy green are edible, and the veggie is eaten throughout Europe, Asia and Mexico. Purslane can be served raw or cooked and has a slightly tangy flavor and slick texture.
Why has purslane become so popular? Probably because it is recognized as having more omega-3 fatty acids than any other leafy vegetable. So if you’re not eating fish or flax, purslane might be a good alternative. It also contains a healthy dose of vitamins A, B and C as well as magnesium, calcium, potassium and iron.
Purslane is not something you’ll find at the supermarket. In fact, you’ll have to fight the crowds at the Kapiolani Community College Farmers Market on Saturdays and find farmer Ed Otsuji’s booth (across from Ba-Le Bakery). Otsuji is cultivating purslane at his Hawaii Kai farm and has already developed a loyal following for this unusual vegetable.
Fresh purslane will keep for several days in the refrigerator. Eat the leaves and stems; sometimes stems become tough or too tart and can be removed. Chop purslane and use it in salads or in place of lettuce in a sandwich. Saute it quickly with a squeeze of lemon to enhance its flavor. Add it to soups, stews or even dips. Give purslane a try!
Hawaii food writer Joan Namkoong offers a weekly tidbit on fresh seasonal products, many of them locally grown. Look for "Fresh Tips" every Wednesday in the Star-Advertiser.