Portulaca olearacea

The thing from this week’s box that stands out most as needing some explanation is clearly the purslane. Purslane is a succulent (like aloe, agave, or hens-and-chicks) that used to be cultivated for food. It has a tart, slightly lemony flavor. Like lambsquarters, it is now considered a weed. If you are a gardener, you should know that pulling it and leaving it in the path is not a good option, as after being uprooted it will live off its stored water long enough to flower and produce seed.

Look the purslane over for any bad leaves and remove them. Depending on how you’re planning to use it, you can remove the fattest stems if you want, but it doesn’t necessarily matter. Taste the different parts and see what you think about the texture, then decide how much to remove from there.

Because of the texture, one particularly good use for purslane is as the base to a dressing or sauce. Use the blender or a large mortar and pestle to liquefy the purslane, then add… whatever. Garlic, scallions, mustard, tarragon, salt, pepper… maybe not all at once. Or maybe yes all at once. Add some oil and maybe vinegar. Or maybe make it sweeter, and maybe a little spicy. If you still have any left over parsley that’s any good you could put that in. It could be salad dressing, cracker or vegetable dip, or you could put it on steak. Or maybe fish, depending on how strong you make the flavor. Or pour it on grilled vegetables.

I’ve also heard of people chopping it into potato salad. It seems well suited to tzatziki, too.

Here are some good ideas for kale from a friend of ours who works in the education program at the county extension:

I steam it, but oversteamed kale is no good.  Just lightly steamed and then drizzled with lemon and a little bit of salt.  mmmmmmm. refreshing.  Sometimes I toast walnuts and caramelize some onions or super briefly sautee some red onions and even throw in some dried cranberries or cherries and drizzle some balsamic on top.

Kale chips have recently been a huge hit with my middle and high school students.  I don’t have the exact recipe with me right now, but pretty much they shrink down a lot so I’d suggest 2 bunches of kale, about 1 tablespoon of olive oil (you really don’t need very much), and a little bit of salt.  Careful not to add too much salt or they will be inedible! I think we suggested 1/2 teaspoon, but I thought that was even too much…depending on the size of the bunch. Pretty much you cut the kale into bit sized pieces (most people prefer it de-stemmed) and toss it in the olive oil and salt and then lay it out as evenly and in one layer on a baking sheet as possible and bake them for 15 minutes at 350 or until they are pretty much dehydrated. Great for people who maybe aren’t so into kale but are into chips.
At UCSC, people were really into making massaged kale salad.  Pretty much you cut up an avocado (ya, I know, totally grown in Central Oregon) and chop up some kale and put them in a bowl with a little olive oil (or not even) and use your hands to massage it together.  It’s best when it has some time to sit in the fridge.  Top with some sesame seeds.  Scrumptious!

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