by Heather Schmitt-Gonzalez / Thursday, August 12, 2010
Carnitas con Verdolagas
One day, about a month ago...I made a wish. I wished that I had verdolagas growing in my garden. You see, my garden is fairly new. Mexi finally got around to tilling me a space in the backyard and enclosing it with re-purposed wood from around the property. Property makes it sound substantial. It's not really, but it was here and there in the yard, around and in the garage, etc...so I thought property was a good term. When we moved in last year, Mexi noticed some verdolagas in our neighbors garden. I was intrigued, because it was something I hadn't heard of before. So, I did a bit of research and found out that Verdolagas were just Purslane (in Spanish). Purslane I had heard of...but still was not familiar with it. I knew it was an edible weed. One that most people just cursed and pulled from their gardens. Well, we proceeded to ask our new neighbors if they knew that the purslane in their garden was edible. They didn't. Nor did they care. I proceeded to watch them weed it out and discard shortly after we were so kind as to tell them there was food they didn't even know about right under their very noses! Urrggghhhh. Frustrating. So I dreamed of the day when I would try verdolagas for myself. Mexi told me how delicious it was with pork...and I believed him. Moving back to this year and my newly readied piece of earth...I planted 3 types of heirloom tomatoes and some herbs. It was late in the season and I wanted to start small and dream big. I thought it was a good start...something to add to the various things I found already comfortable here...the grape vines, the mint, the chamomile, the ground cherries, the yucca. As I thought about the verdolagas in the neighbors garden, I wondered if they would transplant well. Perhaps I could ask them if I could dig them up and put them in my garden. Hmmmm....that's a good idea...especially since they don't want it anyway. I just wished that I had some verdolagas in my garden.
Fast forward two days. Yes, really...two. I walk out to check on my tomato plants and herbs after some severe weather...wind, rain, heat...to find that my wish had been granted! I don't know if a lovely fairy carried some seed from the neighbors garden to mine...or perhaps it was a bird or an insect...but lo and behold, there in my garden...were my very own edible weeds!!
I could barely contain myself! You never saw a girl so excited to have some weeds in her garden. I hopped in and walked around looking at the different patches of verdolagas spread throughout the garden. I ran back in the house like a kid with a new toy to tell Mexi!!! Oh yes, I made sure to take off my flip-flops at the door. The ones I had just worn to walk into the still-wet rich earth that is the garden. But, um...flip-flops and excitement do little for keeping the mess away. Oh well. Woo Hoo! And what's even better...purslane grows, well...like a weed go figure! If you snip it off almost all the way to the ground, you can go back a few days later and see substantial growth! I usually end up getting enough to use for one meal every week! It's a light, almost lemony-scented green that you can eat raw tossed into a salad or cooked.
I don't know why I'm not able to find it anywhere else around here. Not at the farmers market. Not for sale at any roadside stands. Not in any market at all!? Fortunately I don't have to look any further than my own back yard any longer. Now, let's move on to the most fabulous dish ever. Seriously, it tops anything I've eaten in ages. I am still dreaming about it, even though it vanished from the pot...and the fridge...a few weeks ago. I've eaten verdolagas in different forms since then, but even as I sit here trying to convey to you how effing fabulous this dish is, I'm making a mental note to make another pot. This recipe is adapted from a recipe for Costillas de Puerco con Verdolagas from Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen.
Toss in the cilantro and measure in enough cool water to make ~3 c. Blend until smooth. This is the same method I use for making salsa verde for drizzling on tacos and mixing w/ shredded chicken to put into tamales...although I usually char a few garlic cloves along w/ the other veggies when I'm using it for that purpose. Just add them in and proceed as usual.
|Pile the leftovers onto a sope for another taste sensation!|
*This is my entry into GYO (Grow Your Own) this month hosted by Andrea also the creator from Cooking, Gardening & Four Hungry Guys...where you enter a dish you've prepared from something you've either grow, foraged, caught or hunted yourself!
*Update 3/28/11: I am submitting this to BSI: Salsa hosted by my pal Tina at Life in the Slow Lane at Squirrel Head Manor this week.
|Make a vegetarian taco filling by cooking up some potatoes and verdolagas in salsa verde!|
Michiana-based food, drink, and travel writer with a fondness for garlic, freshly baked bread, stinky cheese, single malt Scotch, and Mexican food—who believes that immersing herself in different cultures one bite at a time is the best path to enlightenment.