From Weed to Wonderful

A few days ago, my friend Dave sent me the photo below in a text message.  He asked if I wanted some.  I said, “You bet!”

Verdolagas or purslane, an edible native that sprouts with the monsoon rains.

Purslane, or verdolagas in Spanish, sprouts when we get our summer monsoon rains.  It is edible. It has a bright peppery taste raw, and is a savory green when cooked.  It goes well in a pot of beans.  When I use it in native plant cooking demos, I chop it and mix it with a little garlic and onion in scrambled eggs.

Dave made good n his promise and brought me a box of purslane. A big box!

A little more purslane than I had expected!
Purslane has flat leaves, reddish stems and tiny purple blossoms.

Some folks just wash and chop the plant and freeze or cook it stems and all.  I take the leaves and little stems off the bigger ones because they are more tender. It’s more work, but that’s how I like it.

After about three hours, I had cleaned and stemmed three pounds for the freezer and a mess for a pot of beans for supper. That was about 1/3 of the box Dave gave me.  Lesson learned: The leaves are so filled with water that they disintegrate to mush when they thaw. Don’t bother freezing them.

Stemmed, washed and packed verdolagas ready for the freezer. My big colander holds about 12 oz. of prepared greens.

My favorite way to enjoy fresh purslane/verdolagas is cooked in a pot of pinto beans,  I add them during the last 30 minutes of cooking so they retain a little texture with the beans.

Here’s why we pick through our beans before we cook them. A pebble would be a painful surprise in the pot.
Picking beans was the first thing on the list. While they cooked, I worked on the verdolagas.

It’s good to spend an afternoon working on food and cooking from scratch. We don’t often make time to do that. Few things are as satisfying as enjoying the fruits of our labor.

I cooked my beans with some chopped onion, a couple of smashed cloves of garlic and some diced salt pork.  We called it sow belly when I was growing up.  Of course, the have to be served with corn bread for sopping’ up the juice.  A home roasted green chile added a little kick.

Friday night feast of red beans, verdolagas and buttermilk  cornbread down at the doublewide.


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