Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Verdolagas for Gluten-free Dining • eAnaya.

The Gluten-free Chicano Cooks
Verdolagas: Garden-fresh, Gluten-free. Con Carne de Puerco.
Michael Sedano

These verdolagas show tight buds, no yellow showing.

Verdolaga, less well-known as Purslane, is a wonderfully prolific plant that crops up where gardeners wet the surface of scarified tierra. Within a few days, tiny cotyledon leaves carpet the ground. They grow rapidly. The plants spread along the ground, creating shade mulch, but are water stealers, requiring frequent weeding.

Controlling the spread of verdolaga in the garden is relatively simple, eat it. 

That, or make sure to remove the plants before the flowers open. Flowers produce seedpods that explode, casting microscopic fertility into la tierra. The plant is the subject of an old Pedro Infante song:

Los amores más bonitos
son como la verdolaga
no más le pones tantito
y crecen como una plaga

Verdolagas are at their piquant, pliant, tender best when just budding, when yellow petals have yet to show at the tip. Even young flowers have crunchy tiny seeds that threaten a hapless diner with the uneasy sensation of biting into sand. 

Plague or plethora, Verdolaga cotyledons.

The backyard garden remains one of the few safe places to forage verdolaga. Gone are the orange groves where lush green rows of verdolagas thrived between endless rows of trees.

Orange picker families and other gente in-the-know would take grocery bags into a good grove and in a few minutes everyone in the car would have a big bag of nutritious forage and the prospect of a delicious dinner to culminate a great day.

Who knows what agribusiness sprays on the huertas and fields nowadays? I wouldn’t eat verdolagas from a commercial grove.

As it happens, growing your own backyard purselane is simple. It's probably already growing on your land. If not, it probably will.

Use a garden fork to aerate an area of the garden and rake it smooth. Water and keep moist. The seed is endemic in most yards, lying waiting to be exposed to light, air, and water. A few days wait produces the green and red carpet signalling a crop of verdolaga in-the-growing.

Controlling the spread of verdolaga in the garden is relatively simple, eat it. That, or make sure to remove the plants before the flowers open and grow seed.

Verdolaga grows in Echinopsis pot.

Harvesting verdolagas means choosing young growth and pulling up the whole plant and root system. Grab a big handful of plants where the stems grows from the ground. Pull straight up. Gently shake off the loose dirt and anything clinging to the root ball.

Put the verdolagas in the collecting bag. Don’t get dirt in the bag. 

Transfer the plants to a basin of water deep enough to cover the roots. Swish the dirt off the roots then wash the entire bundle in case someone got dirt in the bag. Don't get dirt in the bag.

Transfer the washed verdolagas to a colander or toalla to drain. Pinch off and discard the roots.

Pull the tender branches off the main stem. On longer branches, pinch off where stems branch into “y.”  Discard the main stems or save them for the chickens. 

Verdolagas Con Carne de Puerco

Prepped verdolaga.
Chopped onion and cloves of garlic and a small carrot
Cubed pork drenched in gluten-free flour and seasonings.
Yellow cheese – longhorn, cheddar
Tomato sauce

Dice an onion.
Mince two cloves garlic.
Wilt in hot oil.
Add cubed, floured pork, brown and sear. Sprinkle with spices—salt, pepper, ground chile, comino.

Add verdolagas and combine. One handful of prepared leaves per serving, and one or two for the pot. Cover and store unused verdolaga.

Add a small can or two of tomato sauce and the rinse water from the cans.

Add an amount of cubed yellow cheese - longhorn, cheddar ¼ lb.

Bring to a boil over medium flame.

Cover, low simmer 20 to 30 minutes.

Remove from heat and prepare the tortillas and other dishes. This lets the sauce cool and thicken from the gf flour and cheese.

Verdolagas con carne de puerco  is a complete meal in itself, but tortillas de maíz and a side of refried beans have a way of rounding out a meal.

Digital Editions of Rudolfo Anaya Titles Recently Published

Open Road Media, a New York City-based publishing company, recently released the ebook editions of nine novels by La Bloga friend Rudolfo Anaya, including Alburquerque, the The Sonny Baca Novels, Serafina’s Stories, and more.

Those are stories that need reading even if the bookshelves leave little space for classics. Having an ebook reader is a way to travel with a library of well-deserved titles at the ready. The publisher writes: We are honored to bring Anaya's important work to digital audiences and new generations of readers. What's the e-equivalent of a page turner, a screen swiper?

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