Purslane (Portulaca oleracea)
Purslane is probably one of the best wild edibles I have ever had the chance to try out. Found around the world it was introduced to North America and now grows almost everywhere there are fields, vacant lots, waste areas and family gardens. This is definitely one “weed” that you do not want to pull from your garden but rather promote it’s growth and welcome it to your dinner table as it contains high amounts of iron, vitamins A and C, and is high in calcium and phosphorus and is almost totally void of calories. Purslane is not normally cultivated but it is sold in some specialty stores.
Purslane is an annual herb that sprawls along the ground with its fleshy, succulent, highly branched stems. The stems are round and tinted red. The leaves alternate, paddle-shaped (obovate), flat, and alternately arranged. The small flowers are yellow, sessile, and contain five two-lobbed petals. The small seed capsules produce abundant black seeds.
To harvest clip the young leaf tips from June-September and collect larger stems for pickles. To collect the seeds to be ground into flour, spread the mature plants on a sheet to dry for a couple of weeks. Use a sieve to separate the seeds from the main plant matter and winnow in a light breeze.
The shoots are great cooked or in a fresh salad with a slight bitter taste that is not over powering. In fresh salads I like to use a light vinaigrette for the dressing and as a pot herb, simply wash under cool running water (it will be gritty and needs the bath), boil the plants for 10 minutes and season with butter and seasonings. Purslane doesn’t “cook away” so the volume you begin with is basically what you will have once it is cooked.
- Purslane tips (pre-cooked)
- 1 egg
- bread crumbs (enough to make a damp mixture)
- 1 medium onion (diced)
- 1 clove garlic (minced)
- Salt and pepper
Combine ingredients and bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until top is browning. Try purslane out in your favorite casserole dishes. I am not a big fan of damp bread but even I enjoy the above recipe.
Also be sure to try out purslane as a batter dipped fried companion to your other wild fritters such as dandelion, morel and daylilies. Simply dip in an egg/milk mixture and roll in flour and spices. Deep fry in your favorite oil and serve hot.
You can also blanch the leaf tips and freeze for latter use. I have found that it keeps well and makes a good addition to my soups and stews. This is a good idea if you have an “anti-greens” family since they will never know that they are receiving such a high vitamin wild veggie hidden in their favorite stew.
Purslane pickles are my favorite and you can adapt any of your favorite pickle recipes to accommodate purslane stems. I found the following recipe at Purslane, along with several other recipes. This site is worth checking out for many more purslane ideas.
- 1 quart purslane stems and leaves
- 3 garlic cloves, sliced
- 1 quart apple cider vinegar (or old pickle, jalapeno juice,etc.)
- 10 peppercorns
Clean the purslane stems and leaves by rinsing with fresh water. Cut into 1″ pieces and place in clean jars with lids. Add the spices and pour the vinegar over the purslane. Keep this in the refrigerator and wait at least two weeks before using. Serve as a side dish with omelets and sandwiches.
Purslane flour will work with any of your favorite bread, muffin and cookie recipes. Just allow the seed to dry for one week after harvesting and store it in a paper bag. This will keep very well for some time but I always roast the flour if I plan to mix it with other collected flours or store it over a long period of time. Roasting may not do a bit of good really but it makes me feel like I did my best to be sure the flour was free of critter visitors that may decide to grow latter and ruin my flour.
Purslane Flour Pancakes
- 1/2 cup purslane flour
- 1/2 cup flour
- 2 tablespoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 egg
- 1 scant cup milk
- 3 tablespoons oil
Mix and pour on hot griddle about a silver dollars worth of batter. Cook until golden and serve with butter and syrup. Add fresh fruit if you like. My personal favorite is bananas or wild strawberries. Remember to get out all those jellies that you made that didn’t quit set up right. This is a great time to show off you pancake syrup making skills!
From I Hear America Cooking Betty Fussell. Elisabeth Sifton Books. Viking Penguin Inc. New York. 1986 page 71
Submitted by Shannon
Lamb’s Quarter and Purslane Salad
Lamb’s quarter, otherwise known as goosefoot, or wild spinach, is one of oldest and most prolific greens, used not only for its spear-shaped leaves but for its small black seeds. Equally venerable as a culinary weed is the pink-stemmed purslane, a cousin of the bright-flowered but inedible portulaca. At their youngest, in the first breath of spring, the leaves of both pigweed and purslane are delicious raw. As they grow into adolesence, both need only a quick parboiling to restore tenderness but maintain crispness. If other wild things are near at hand, like leafing poke sprouts, the leaves of dandelions, or the blossoms and leaves of budding nasturtiums, use them too, with sunflower seed dressing.
- 4 cups each purslane and lamb’s quarter leaves
- 4 green onions, with tops, chopped
- 1/4 cup toasted sunflower seeds
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 3 tablespoons wine vinegar, or more as needed
- salt and pepper to taste
Wash the purslane plantes and the lamb’s quarter leaves separately. If the purslane is large, chop into 2-inch lengths. Put the purslane in a saucepan, cover with water, and boil 3 to 5 minutes. Drain and set aside. Put the wet lamb’s quarter leaves and green onions in a skillet, cover tightly, and steam 3 to 5 minutes, depending on the size and age of the leaf. Drain and mix with the purslane in a salad bowl. Put the sunflower seeds in a blender with the oil and pulverize until chunky. Add the vinegar and season to taste. If dressing is too thick, thin with more vinegar. Pour the dressing over the salad greens. serves 4 to 6
Cucumber Purslane Yogurt Salad
From [Website No Longer Available]
- 5 large Cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into quarter-round slices
- 1/4 pound Purslane, large stems removed, washed and drained well
- 2 tablespoons each, Fresh chopped mint, cilantro and chervil
- 4 cups Whole milk yogurt
- 1/4 cup Virgin olive oil
- 3 cloves Garlic, pureed with the blade of a knife
- 2 teaspoon ground Coriander
- Kosher Salt and ground Black Pepper
Place the cucumber, purslane and herbs into a large bowl. In another bowl, stir together the yogurt, olive oil and garlic, coriander and season to taste with salt. Add the
yogurt mixture to the vegetables and mix well. Add a pinch of ground black pepper. Taste the dressed cucumber-purslane salad for seasoning, adding a little more salt if needed.
Ham and Purslane on Rye
Source: Greg Kirshner, Fullerton, California
- 2 slices rye bread, toasted or untoasted (or you can use whole wheat, pumpernickel, or sourdough)
- A few slices of good quality ham
- A handful of fresh purslane, stems included
- Mustard/horseradish mix (no yellow dye, please)
Instead of lettuce or pickles on this ham sandwich, you’re using fresh purslane. It’s quite flavorful. The slightly crunchy flavor of the crisp, succulent purslane stems helps to make this a satisfying sandwich.
Verdolagas Con Queso (Purslane with Cheese)
Yield: 4 servings
- 4 quarts verdolagas (wild purslane)
- Olive oil or canola oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- Salt and pepper
- 1/4 pound Jack cheese, cubed
Pick over the purslane, discarding thick heavy stems. Pile into a strainer and rinse thoroughly. In a heavy deep skillet, heat the oil and saute the onion, just until glazed. Add the garlic. Pile the verdolagas in the pan. If the pan doesn’t sizzle, add 1 or 2 tablespoons water. Cover and steam for 2 minutes. Open the pan, stir and add salt, pepper, and cubes of cheese. Close the lid for another minute or two. Serve along with the potlicker.