A powerful salad rich in omega-3: purslane, with figs and other “secrets”
Prep Time: 5-7 mins
Yield: 2 servings
My husband’s parents often make fun of me: I’m nominated to be the goat of the house. I might eat industrial quantities of vegetables, no matter cooked or raw, at every meal. Normally a condiment made of lemon juice and a dash of good extra virgin olive oil is more than enough for me. But sometimes there are situations where also looks do matter. This purslane salad with figs makes part of “too good to eat” list and is a net distinction between the word salad (for some of you), and the art piece that you have in your plate. This succulent recipe will finally create embarrassment in those normally critical meal companions, and make them pass their plate, asking for a little more salad. The purslane, or portulaca, is actually a weed; but paradoxically it is among the ‘super foods’, as it contains concentrations of key nutrients, much higher than the majority of cultivated plants. Like omega-3, which is a rarity in the plant world(*). But there’s much more, as it is an excellent source of minerals: potassium, zinc, manganese, copper, calcium, but also vitamin A, B and C; and important antioxidants, such as alpha-tocopherol and glutathione. In practice, it is a bank of nutrients!
But I can almost hear you wondering “with all these qualities who knows how much it will cost…”. You’re right to think so, they made us believe that eating well is a luxury: false! And the opposite is never more true than in the case of the humble portulaca. All you have to do is make arrangements with your greengrocer, who will be happy to collect some for you, for a proper compensation. What is even better is that, portulaca does not require boosted irrigation, pesticides or disinfestants to grow: as I said before, being a weed itself, it grows everywhere without demanding treatment.
The purslane salad with figs, that I am proposing to you with this recipe, was born out of my desire to honour the goodness of this marvellous vegetable, enriching it further with colours and other noble ingredients, even already sufficient alone. I hope the picture is quite exhaustive.
1 bunch of purslane of about 300 g
1 cucumber cut into long sticks
1 ripe fig cut into slices
4 chopped nuts
6 olives divided in half
1 tablespoon of olive oil
the juice of half a lemon
1 tablespoon of pomegranate molasses (it is not obligatory but once tasted you will not want to do without it anymore)
You could prepare it either raw as in this recipe, or cooked. Cooking also serves to reduce its oxalic acid content, which is recommended if you suffer from kidney stones.
For an excellent purslane and fig salad, wash and dry the purslane leaves and separate them from the harder stems. Cut the cucumbers into long sticks, divide the walnut kernels into 8 pieces, cut the black olives in half and slice a ripe fig (in winter you could use a pear). Combine the ingredients in a large salad bowl. Take a bowl and add the lemon juice, pomegranate molasses, oil and salt, emulsify well and dress the salad. You’re ready to bring it to the table.
Plant sources of omega-3 do not offer the same bioavailability as animal sources. And many people entrust their needs to supplements, which are expensive for the pocket and the environment. However, these supplements, in reality, do not respect the exact quantity indicated on the package, as the other elements (co-factors) useful for complete absorption (unlike food) are missing: in other words, the same as in the case of Vitamin C and bioflavonoids.
But another aspect must also be borne in mind, namely that the high concentration of omega-3 in the blood (from the pills/scirops) would limit its absorption through food, with a significant drop. So, you intake elevate quantities, but you don’t get all that you assume. It’s an unwise waste. In order to assume the most of the omega-3 content of food, we should combine together animal and plant sources. This small piece of information is just one of many examples related to the synergy between molecules, which should be studied in depth and divulged in a more capillar way. Therefore, our colourful salad, rich in omega-3 thanks to the presence of purslane and walnuts, if eaten together with half portion of oil fish, will allow us to get the most out of our food, and without irresponsible consumption of fish.
Enjoy your meal and good revolution to all
(*): A. P. Simopoulos, H. A. Norman, J. E. Gillaspy, J. A. Duke (1992), Common purslane: a source of omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants. J Am Coll Nutr. 11(4): 374–382