Did you know that purslane, that ubiquitous weed that grows everywhere, is actually edible? And that it’s full of vitamins and anti-oxidants and one of the best vegetarian sources of Omega-3 fatty acids?
Wild purslane has been harvested and eaten in the Mediterranean for eons, but is just beginning to gain a foothold here in the U.S. as a food crop. The problem isn’t growing purslane, the problem is usually how to stop it from growing everywhere. Purslane grows quickly and produces thousands of tiny seeds that spread with the wind. So even growing purslane in a pot will result in purslane growing elsewhere too. Purslane seeds aren’t picky about their environment either. They will grow in a hot, dry area just as quickly as they grow in a moist, humid area.
Wild purslane leaves are quite small. Therefore, most people find it more satisfying to grow a large-leaf cultivated version. The photo above is Golden Purslane. I originally purchased the seeds from Territorial Seed, but now collect the seeds from the plant and re-plant each year. Purslane leaves are reminiscent of cactus and other succulents. They have a slight lemony flavor and can be used as any other green. I add them to salads, chop leaves and stems and add to marinara sauce, place leaves on pizza like one would spinach, and combine chopped purslane leaves and stems with tofu, baby corn and soy sauce for a steamed dumpling filling. I have even turned purslane into pesto.
Purslane may be dried and powdered and used to thicken soups as they do in Greece. It can also be frozen or pickled. You may even be able to grow it in a pot inside during the winter. No matter what method you choose, adding this healthy, practically free, edible weed to your kitchen garden makes good sense.
Do you have a favorite purslane recipe? Are there any other weeds your family enjoys eating?