Pork in Roasted Tomato Sauce with Verdolagas (purslane)

Posted by Tracey Vowell on

Technically a succulent, native to Australia, Purslane is one of the most nutritious plants around, grows very readily in almost any temperate climate, and is a truly unique and tasty vegetable, also one of the most invasive weeds we battle.

So high in Omega 3 fatty acids, it is said to be among the richest of plant sources, especially important to vegans and stricter vegetarians. High in alpha-linolenic acid, purslane is a considered a strong contributor to healthy longevity because of this high concentration of ALA.

The nutrition facts about this actual Superfood/noxious garden weed are a little bit staggering. Take a look around from sources you trust and consider adding purslane to your regular rotation.

My chef life primarily centered around Mexican food, and purslane is a big deal in Mexico, even if we don’t yet have a full appreciation for it here in the states.  This would be a very typical home style dish.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pork loin roast (1-2 pounds depending on need)
  • 1 white onion, or maybe 3-4 knob onions, white end only
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 dried chipotle chile, or fresh small green chile of your choice
  • 3 lbs. plum or paste tomato, roasted and peeled
  • 1 Tbs quality oil or pastured lard
  • 1 qt stock of your choice
  • 1-3 lbs. SMALL potatoes
  • 1 bunch purslane
  • 1 cup queso fresco, farmers or paneer cheese, crumbled

Season the pork with salt and pepper, either place on a rack on a sheet or roasting pan to bake, or in a dish, ready for the grill.
  
For the sauce:
In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium high, add the onions, and sauté until golden.  

While the onions cook, peel and chop the garlic.

As the onions are coming to a rich golden, add the garlic, reduce the heat to medium, and cook a couple more minutes.

As the garlic cooks, open up and deseed the pepper, and drop it in the bottom of the blender. Add a cup or so of the stock, and blend well, then add the tomatoes.  Pulse the tomatoes, with all their juice, in the blender, just to make a chunky puree, and add to the saucepan. Stir and bring to a boil, adding stock if necessary, then reduce the heat to a simmer.  Cook 20-30 minutes, correct consistency, season with salt; set aside on the stove.

Roast or grill your pork loin.

In the oven, I go 350 degrees for about 25 minutes, and then start checking for doneness. Optimum temp in my house for pork loin is just passing medium, but adjust to your preference.  

On the grill, I typically run a much longer cook time, and take advantage of the opportunity to add wood chunks, or pecan shells, to the coals, providing a rich smoky nuance.

I would certainly be inclined to cook the potatoes on the grill as well.  Roll them through a few drops of oil and a sprinkling of salt, and as the fire is getting started, place them whole, directly on the grates, along the edge of the heat, and turn every time you move the pork.

Fire on one side of the grill, not too big, pork marked on the grates in the hotter area, then pulled to the edge of the heat, and turned often, again until just past medium, beginning to feel stiff when pinched, but not hard.

A cooking time, completely dependent on the fire temperature, would be more like 30-40 minutes, but again, lowish fire, wood chunks set alongside, not on top of the heat, to slowly provide the smoke.

Give the purslane a quick rinse and drain, then cut the length of it down to 2-3 inch pieces.  

When the pork is resting, place the purslane in the tomato sauce, and simmer a few minutes, until the purslane relaxes, but this ain’t kale or collards. Better to go a little under than overcooked.  

While the tomato sauce simmers with the greens, slice the pork.

Ladle the sauce into a serving dish, maybe pull the greens together towards the center, and shingle on the sliced pork.  If I did use knob onions, I certainly would slice the greens and add as a brightly flavored sprinkle.

Add the roasted potatoes all around in the sauce, and a generous handful of the crumbled cheese. Now, I think a few chunks of avocado and a few micro greens would be a good addition to this dish, as would a few of those little summer squashes, roasted, or grilled.  


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