Wildcrafting Nutritious Weeds
You’ve probably seen purslane, growing out of cracks in the sidewalk, or filling in between the rows in your garden. I know I’ve yanked out bushels of the stuff, over the years. It took me a while to figure out that the vigorous “weed” was actually very valuable. You see, as vegetarians, we should be farming this stuff, and eating more of it than spinach.
Why? Well, like spinach it has lots of vitamin C, antioxidants and fiber. But it really shines when it comes to Omega 3’s. These succulent, lemony little leaves are like the salmon of the plant world, with 350 mg of alpha-linolenic acid per 100 g. It’s one of the best green vegs for vitamin A, and has decent amounts of lots of minerals, like magnesium and potassium. Like other lemony tasting leaves, it has some oxalic acid, so people who have problems with that should keep it to a minimum. So, if you are looking for a vegan source of Omega 3’s, this is the cheapest possible one. Avoid eating anything that might be sprayed or polluted, and go for a foraging hunt. It takes some washing to get it all clean, but once you have it, it’s versatile. It can be eaten raw, as in the recipe to follow, or steamed, or stewed into soups. It’s slightly sticky juices actually thicken things a bit. Think of it as spinach with a little lemon added, and go to town.
Purslane and Glazed Tofu Summer Rolls
- 1 block extra firm tofu pressed
- 1 tablespoon avocado oil
- 2 tablespoons tamari
- 2 tablespoons agave syrup
- 9 rice paper wrappers
- 1 large avocado sliced in the shell
- 1/2 lime squeeze over avocado
- 1/2 medium purple daikon fine matchsticks
- 1 medium carrot fine matchsticks
- 1 1/2 cups purslane leaves washed and dried
- 18 medium nasturtium leaves
- 9 red leaf lettuce leaves
- 1 medium cucumber peeled, seeded, cut in strips
- 2 large scallions diagonally sliced
Vegan Nuoc Cham
- 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
- 1/4 cup tamari
- 3 tablespoons agave syrup
- 2 tablespoons finely shredded carrot
- 1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
- First, heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat, then drizzle in avocado oil. Swirl to coat, then place sliced tofu in the pan. Pur in the tamari and agave and bring to a boil. Use a metal spatula to move the tofu so it isn't sticking. Turn after a couple of minutes, cook until the tofu is browned and the liquids are absorbed, then transfer to a plate.
- Prep the filling ingredients and get a large baking pan with an inch of warm water, and spread a clean towel on your cutting board. Submerge two rice paper rounds at a time, then when softened, move to the towel. Build a roll with purslane, carrots and daikon on the bottom, then tofu, then avocado, cuke, scallion and lettuce on top. Roll up and place, seam side down on a plate.Cover with a damp paper towel until time to serve.
- For Nuoc Cham, combine lime, tamari, agave, carrot and red pepper flakes and whisk.Serve rolls with sauce.