Monday, July 14, 2008

Purslane and Greek amaranth soup

Greek amaranth (seeds from Seeds of Change) pictured in the middle ground in Russell's garden bed. According to Wikipedia, Common Purslane, which is also commonly referred to as Pigweed and with the Latin name of Portulaca oleracea, is used as a leaf vegetable in Europe and Asia. I have found it in my garden and at Cure Farm and have decided to try it. From my local perspective, it's slightly sour, salty flavor is a welcome treat here. Certainly I am always on the lookout for vegetables or fruits that can be grown here and which provide a sour flavor. Lemons don't come easy in this climate! Also according to Wikipedia, "Purslane contains more Omega-3 fatty acids than any other leafy vegetable plant" with 0.1 mg/g of EPA which is the same type of fatty acid normally found mostly in fish and some algae. It also contains a number of vitamins. Free, tasty and growing in the ground somewhere near you!
Amaranth has many, many virtues. My problem with my amaranth plants is that I really want to have some survive the summer so they can produce grain, but I also have discovered how tasty the rest of the plant is. According to Wikipedia, the greens "are a very good source of vitamins A, B6, C, riboflavin and a number of dietary minerals." Also of note is the moderately high content of oxalic acid, which inhibits the absorption of calcium and zinc. I'll have to watch that perhaps. In any case, very, very tasty when steamed or braised. And I mean the entire plant.

Boulder mid-JulyPurslane and Greek amaranth soup
Please note: I suggest certain vegetables, but feel free to add others if you wish and you have them. When I made this, I used only vegi's I had grown or foraged in my garden myself (with the exception of the garlic scapes). The amaranth grain I got from Whole Foods, who got it from Peru. I have plants in the ground for grain production for this fall. Not enough, but certainly a good start. I used coconut oil and balsamic vinegar. Both very imported.
-A good handful of amaranth greens (with stalks)
-A good handful of purslane
-Optional: chard or beet greens or cabbage- whatever's ready to eat out there..
-Chives or spring onions (or whatever allium family plant you have growing. Right now I could use bunching onions, red onions, or leeks from my garden.)
-Garlic scapes or young garlic (or mature garlic if that's in season right now.)
-Amaranth grain (pre-cooked with water)
-Feta (I used Haystack Mountain so it's local).
-Oil and vinegar of your choice.
Put about 2 cups of water in a saucepan. Wash greens and snip or chop them up and add to pot. Ditto with the onions or leeks if you have those. If you're using chives, wait to add those later. Add approximately 1/2 cup of amaranth to the pot. Chop up some feta and snip up or mince the garlic scapes or garlic and reserve these (along with the chives if you have those. Heat greens, amaranth and water almost to a simmer, stirring frequently and watching closely. You just want to wilt the greens a little. Pour soup into a bowl, add cheese and garlic (and chives). Add oil and vinegar to taste. Stir. Very good!

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