In the west county of Sonoma, ninety minutes north of the culinary mecca of San Francisco, springtime brings an abundance of the local, the sustainable and the organic.
Berries, dark greens, fava beans, cheeses, breads, jams and so much more line the rows of the farmers markets dotting the towns of Occidental, Sebastopol, Guerneville and Forestville. We buy what’s fresh, in-season, filled with prana – the life force emanating from that which has been harvested mere hours before it lands on a folding table at the market.
Last week, we were gifted some local greens by Wendy. Fresh, vibrant organic purslane and quinoa greens made their way into multiple meals over the next few days. More about each of these below.
I had been introduced to purslane a couple months ago, where it grew in the garden at the residence we called home for two months. It’s practically a weed, and although it is susceptible to frost, it otherwise grows easily in a variety of climates, and is filled with healthy Omega-3’s. It is sometimes referred to as pursley, pussley, fatweed, duckweed and wild portulaca.
Purslane is a bit crunchy, it’s leaves rather thick and mellow in taste. It can substitute for any thick green such as spinach, kale or chard. The young leaves are especially tasty raw, but purslane can also be slightly steamed or added late to a stir-fry.
Incredibly healthy as a fresh dark green, purslane contains seven times more beta carotene than carrots and six times more vitamin E than spinach.
Purslane is a common green in Mexican cuisine, and has only recently been introduced into American markets and diets. As it makes its way from farmers markets and local growers to big markets with a nationwide presence, look for a growing awareness of purslane, recipes to match and the use of it by progressive chefs everywhere.
Organic Quinoa Greens
As if quinoa wasn’t already topping the charts in popularity, this versatile plant produces delicious, thin, edible leaves that are gaining awareness among people looking for new, tasty, healthy greens to add to the diet.
These leaves will wilt in high heat, but get them home from a farmers market in good shape, and you’ll have a wonderful addition to any recipe that calls for something green, be it a leafy salad or a garnish on a hearty dish.
Full of calcium and iron, quinoa greens can substitute for spinach or arugula. They are full of flavor with only a touch of spiciness – certainly less than the bite of mature arugula.
A high-altitude plant, quinoa is commonly harvested from the Andes in South America. Quinoa plants in North America might produce just the leaves and not the seed that we are so familiar with. Try quinoa greens in salads, stirred into soups, or topping a pasta with olive oil, pine nuts and shallots.