Along the Grapevine


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Wild Greens and Chocolate Balsamic Dressing

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Not everyone shares my enthusiasm for bitter wild greens. Dr. Andrew Well does, and he has written a very persuasive argument why we should include things like dandelion leaves in our diet in this article.

This post offers a way to serve wild greens, mixed with other flavours to help your palate get used to the bitter flavours. It is a salad of mixed greens with strawberries, goat’s cheese and chocolate balsamic vinegar. The dressing itself is a mixture of sweet (honey) and bitter (chocolate). It is the perfect match for wild greens, or any greens for that matter.

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I was first introduced to the idea of mixing chocolate with balsamic vinegar by a recipe posted recently by Simi at acasadisimi for another kind of salad all together which called for chocolate balsamic vinegar. I had never heard of chocolate balsamic before, so was determined to try it. I chose to make a salad dressing with those two flavours in it – and it worked like a charm. This is as easy as salad dressing gets, but with such a rich combination of flavours, it makes the simplest salad seem like an epicurean treat.

Chocolate Balsamic Dressing

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

2 tsp cocoa powder

4 Tbsp liquid honey (I used buckwheat)

1 tsp salt

1/2 cup olive oil

Whisk the first four ingredients together. Add the olive oil slowly continuing to whisk.

For the salad, I used a mixture of spring greens (including some dandelions, day lily sprouts and tubers), cucumber, crumbled goat’s cheese and strawberries.

And so this wild salad is my contribution to Angie’s Fiesta Friday

get-together where I always end up collecting new recipes and inspiration to take away with me. Can’t wait to see what treats are in store for me this week.

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Purslane and Cabbage Salad

Purslane (portulaca oleracea) is yet another weed I have growing wildly in my garden, but only now have I decided to stop thinking of it as a pesky weed. I am even considering collecting some seeds in the fall, and growing some in its own little garden – away from my onions and leeks which it likes to snuggle up to. Image

Canadian Gardening says this about it:

Nutritionally, purslane is a powerhouse. It has more than double the omega-3s that kale has and, as far as I know, more than any other leafy green ever analyzed. It has over four times the vitamin E of turnip leaves, more than any other leafy green ever analyzed. It has glutathione and other antioxidants and about as much iron as spinach. It also has reasonable amounts of other nutrients as well as phytochemicals, like all these leafy greens. So purslane is no slouch, not a poison, and definitely worth eating.

Rich in omega-3s
Many people studying the Mediterranean diet think that it is foods like purslane and other omega-3 greens that give the Greeks their good balance of fats. Olive oil only contributes some of the omega-3s; the greens, walnuts, oily fish, and a few other foods give them the rest of what they need.

To help you identify it, it is a spreading plant, looks much like portulaca, and has reddish-green or purple tinted stems that are very fleshy. It has small, inconspicuous yellow flowers.Image

If you pick only the succulent stem tips, the plant will continue to grow. Remove flowers as they appear, unless you wish to collect seeds. The flavour is lemony-sweet, and they are crunchy when fresh.

As my first experiment in eating it, I decided to try it in its raw form to see how I liked the taste. This salad is not really a recipe – just an idea for using fresh purslane.100_0423

I used cabbage, shredded carrot, purslane, olive oil, salt and cider vinegar to keep it as simple as possible. Other herbs, shredded beets, jerusalem artichokes, or even a base of lettuce or some other greens would work just as well.100_0426