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If you come across this plant in your yard, avoid disturbing it at all costs, as it plays a vital role in saving lives.

If you come across this plant in your yard, avoid disturbing it at all costs, as it plays a vital role in saving lives.
Once deemed an invasive species in gardens, Verdolaga, or purslane, has undergone a remarkable transformation into a highly prized commodity. Its unique combination of health benefits and delightful taste has propelled this extraordinary plant into the limelight, gracing upscale eateries and farmers’ markets.

Formerly referred to as hogweed and pigweed, Purslane is finally receiving the recognition it deserves as a beneficial weed. Its resurgence is evident, being hailed as a superfood even by prominent figures such as Mahatma Gandhi.

Dr. Artemis Simopoulos of the Centre for Genetics, Nutrition, and Health has bestowed upon this robust plant the title of a “miracle plant.” During her tenure at the NIH, Dr. Simopoulos discovered that, among leafy greens, Purslane boasts the highest concentration of Omega-3 fatty acids.

With teardrop-shaped succulent leaves, Purslane emerges as a nutritional powerhouse, offering a wealth of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Beyond its nutritional value, the leaves contribute a mildly spicy, lemony flavor. Sergio Vitale, the chef and proprietor of Chicago’s Aldo’s Ristorante Italiano, fondly recalls his childhood in southern Italy, emphasizing Purslane’s significance.

While the popularity of raw and pickled Purslane declined in the early 1900s, a resurgence led by inventive chefs, foragers, and farmers has revived interest in this versatile herb.

When working with wild Purslane, a thorough washing is imperative to eliminate any lingering pesticide residues. The mildly salty and tart taste of purslane makes it an excellent complement to a variety of dishes, such as Purslane and basil pesto.

Recipe for Purslane and Basil Pesto:

Ingredients:

2 cups of young, roughly cut, and rinsed Purslane stems and leaves 45 grams of washed basil leaves One garlic clove 40 grams of toasted almonds Half of a lemon’s juice A half-milliliter bottle of olive oil Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

Combine almonds, basil, garlic, lemon juice, and purslane in a food processor. Pulse to mix the ingredients. Emulsify the mixture by slowly adding olive oil while the machine is running. Season with salt and pepper according to taste. Use this aromatic pesto on toasted sandwiches, roast veggies, meat, or mix it with pasta for a delightful meal.

Purslane’s dietary advantages include being a plant-based source of omega-3 fatty acids, rich in antioxidants like glutathione, and abundant in essential minerals. It serves as an excellent source of vitamin C, beta-carotene, melatonin, and the amino acid tryptophan, offering benefits ranging from immune system support to mood regulation.

Appreciate the beauty of Purslane while savoring its culinary and medicinal perks. Its wealth of Omega-3 fatty acids and melatonin make this versatile plant a truly boundless source of health benefits and flavor.

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