Tuesday, July 06, 2010

CSA week 5: Purslane

For our holiday weekend barbeque, I wanted to feature summer vegetables alongside the grilled chicken, and I was determined to find a way to use two weeks' worth of purslane.

I've decided that Wikipedia is not a great source for culinary inspiration. Here I learned that purslane is "considered a weed in the US" and is known for its "musilaginous" quality, as a thickener for soups and stews.

On the positive side, however, it has more omega-3 fatty acids than any other green leafy vegetable, and it's a good source of vitamins A, C, E, as well as iron, calcium and potassium. The raw leaves taste like watercress, but less peppery and more lemony.

This recipe for purslane-potato salad suited my menu, and allowed me to use Yukon Gold potatoes and cucumber from this week's CSA share. I prefer vinaigrette to mayonnaise-based potato salads, and a light dressing of olive oil and lemon juice complemented the purslane nicely.

This summer vegetable gratin did a lot to raise the profile of zucchini in my house. (A teenage visitor who reportedly does not like cooked tomatoes ate two large helpings.)

Baked zucchini can turn into soupy glop, but this recipe called for salting and draining the sliced tomatoes and zucchini before assembling the dish. The result was juicy, but not watery.

There's a layer of caramelized onion between the zucchini and tomatoes, which really enriched the flavor. It's topped with Parmesan bread crumbs, and some chopped fresh basil added after baking.

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