Like the Italians I'm always on the look-out for free food to be gathered from from the wild. Whatever the season, there's always something: aspargus, blackberries, elderflowers and elderberries, wild onions, chestnuts, to name just a few of the more obvious ones.
Now I have found a new one. I had an e-mail from the American Simply Recipes Web-site (http://simplyrecipes.com/) with a recipe for a Tomato, Cucumber and Purslane Salad (http://simplyrecipes.com/recipes/tomato_cucumber_purslane_salad/). I had never heard of purslane before, but there was an explanation and various links, including an article in Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portulaca_oleracea). It's scientific name is Portulaca oleracea and is also known as Verdolaga, Pigweed, Little Hogweed or Pusley. It's particularly popular in Mexico, but is also considered a delicacy in parts of Europe, Greece and Turkey in particular.
Looking at the pictures and descriptions I thought, I know this stuff... I've been pulling it out from amongst my peppers and aubergines in great big bundles as a weed. Nobody's told me it's edible. This is what it looks like.
Well, if you find this in your garden, don't pull it out, it's deliciously fresh and crunchy, and not only that, it's one of the richest sources of Omega-3 fatty acids, in particular alpha-linolenic acid. These are essential fatty acids, which cannot be produced by the body and its other prime source is fatty fish such as mackerel or salmon. Do you know what fish costs these days? And this food is entirely free. There were also links to some other recipes such as Purslane, Tomato, Tomatillo Soup or Pickled Purslane. I shall try my way through them and experiment a bit. We tried the salad this evening and it's good!
Oh, and I know you've been dying to see the othe 3 cats, here they are. From left to right: Rooney, NoSi and la Mamma, Tigger