The portulaca it has accompanied man’s diet for centuries and, after decades of progressive decline in consumption, it is back in vogue again, also thanks to the experimentation of vegan and vegetarian diets. This vegetable is a plant with a thousand properties, suitable for the most varied recipes: but which parts of the plant are they edible and, moreover, what are the most common uses?
Before starting, it is necessary to specify how to genre Portulaca the most diverse qualities belong, as this plant is often chosen for simple ornamental purposes. For consumption, however, one must opt for the Portulaca oleracea, the only one edible variety, as well as on sale in the normal distribution of food products.
Portulaca: the characteristics of the plant
The genre Portulaca, as already mentioned, identifies several plants belonging to the family of Portulacaceae. It is a very large genus, considering that there are at least 40 spontaneously growing varieties, to which 100 other cultivars are added, the latter chosen for ornamental purposes given the splendid flowers that the plants are able to produce. For food consumption, however, one opts only for the Portulaca oleracea, as the only fully edible variety.
The purslane is characterized by a bushy appearance, due to small stems and multiple elongated leaves, with an intense green color and unmistakable consistency. The plant produces small flowers, usually yellow, although the shades can also vary on red, depending on the cultivar.
Also called porcelain O swine in common parlance, the vegetable is not usually cultivated, as it is already abundant in nature. In fact, the plant grows spontaneously throughout the boot and its multiplication is very prolific, given its herbaceous and rustic, almost invasive nature. Given the increasing demand from restaurants and the retail sector, several agricultural crops have recently been started.
Portulaca, edible plant
The use of purslane insupply human has very distant roots: given its origins in the Middle East, it seems that the plant was already known at the time of ancient Egypt. It gradually spread to the diet of the whole Mediterranean, then to Asia, where it still remains a widely consumed product today.
In Italy, since it is considered a poor and rustic variety, the use of recipes has decreased since the 1960s, but today this variety has found a second life, thanks also to the interest aroused by vegan and vegetarian diets. The plant, with a sour taste, is chosen both fresh as mixed salad for salads, but also as a balancer of flavors in the most varied preparations.
Portulaca to eat: the health benefits
The Portulaca oleracea it is not only good and cheap to eat, it is also a food rich in properties useful for the body. Thanks to its nutritional profile which, in addition to providing only 20 calories per 100 grams of consumption, offers an interesting concentrate of vitamins and mineral salts.
First, the plant is rich in vitamins A and C, essential for the proper functioning of all organs. Vitamin A is in fact at the basis of skin regulation mechanisms and cell regeneration, the first form of contrasting the action of free radicals and the signs of aging. On the other hand, C is universally known for its contribution to the immune system, making it more reactive to the action of external attacks.
However, it is its polyunsaturated fats that arouse greater interest, in particular the Omega 3, known for some time as a contrast to bad cholesterol and triglycerides, therefore protective against cardiovascular problems.
Several researches over the years have also confirmed the diuretic and purifying properties of the plant, which proves to be a real ally for the proper functioning of the kidney. In addition, it ensures a mild antibacterial action, which is expressed mainly in the urinary system.
Last but not least, since it is very rich in fibers, purslane favors the regulation of intestinal transit especially in the presence of constipation. At the same time, it limits the absorption of saturated fats and excess carbohydrates.
Portulaca: what do you eat of the plant?
Of the Portulaca oleracea different parts are used: both the leaves that the drums, both raw and cooked. More rare, however, is the use of seeds.
Generally, the leaves are consumed in the salad to make the dish tastier and, due to the acidic taste, to reduce the use of fatty condiments. Consumption in salads is particularly well known in Lazio, in particular in the province of Rome, where this plant is also called “friar grass“. This is because purslane was often given to friars when they used to go from house to house for donations and offerings. Cooked leaves, on the other hand, can be added to soups to rebalance flavors, but also to enrich fillings or prepare omelettes.
Wild purslane, protagonist of Sicilian cuisine
Definitely interesting is the use in Sicilian cuisine, where the wild purslane takes the name of “purciddana“. In this region, it is typical for the preparation of the Ferragostana salad, completed with tomatoes, cucumbers and onions. In addition, boiled meat, often complete with stems, finds plenty of space alongside other vegetables, as well as to accompany boiled potatoes and baked onions. Finally, the tops are also dipped in batter, for making tasty pancakes.
Purslane salad, a recipe
Purslane in salads is one of the most popular dishes for the consumption of this extraordinary herbaceous variety which, as mentioned in the previous paragraphs, can ensure protection for the body and ensure proper blood purification.
Obviously, to be healthy, the salad must offer only healthy ingredients, of natural origin and not burdensome for the cardiovascular system. But which recipe to prepare? Here are some tips.
- 70 grams of purslane;
- 5 seasonal radishes;
- 1 stalk of celery;
- 2 nights;
- 1 lemon;
- extra virgin olive oil;
Carefully wash the 70 grams of purslane, then drain and divide it into individual leaves. In the meantime, cut the 5 into rounds radishes cleaned and rinsed and put them in a bowl together with the plant. Then add the celery stalk and cut the two finely crumbled nuts. At this point, it is seasoned with the juice of half a lemon, two generous spoons of olive oil and salt to taste.
The recipe proves to be a real panacea for the health of the organism, since in addition to the benefits of purslane, the antioxidant ones of radishes and the protective action of walnuts on the heart are added. L’extra virgin olive oil instead it helps to fight against bad cholesterol, together with the Omega 3 of purslane, thanks to its healthy fatty acids. The dish is typically summery for its freshness, but it can also be eaten at other times of the year.
Source: GreenStyle by www.greenstyle.it.
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