Purslane: Raw Purslane Weed Salad

Purslane Verdolaga Weed - ForkFingersChopsticks.com

Call it a weed if you want. Purslane is still good eating.

Every summer growing up, my family planted a backyard garden with tomatoes, calabacitas (zucchini), chiles, cilantro, onions and a few other standards found in most Mexican family gardens. Yet, part of the bounty we enjoyed was something we didn’t plant . . .  weeds.

We would chow down on verdolagas. You might know the weed as “purslane.”

Purslane is a long, red-stemmed succulent with fleshy oval flowers.  It grows all over the world and is eaten in many cultures – in Egypt and Sudan it is used as a medicine and as a vegetable, in France it is served with fish, in Holland it is used in winter salads, and in Mexico, it is frequently eaten with pork.

Despite this, it has a bad rap with most gardeners, who consider it an invasive weed.

Purslane is also known by some unattractive names like pigweed, Little Hogweed and pussley. Not too enticing, eh? After reading this post and its nutritional value (see Tidbits below), I hope you’ll be persuaded to try the little succulent. Know that some folks consider it a superfood.

Purslane has a mild flavor and is slightly lemony. It reminds me of nopales (cactus), without as much mucilage.

This summer as purslane grows in my garden and in the cracks of my sidewalk, I’ve allowed some areas to grow. I prefer to pick it when the stems are about 5 inches in length – the longer the stems, the tangier. On the occasions when it is longer, I discard the thick stems or at least make sure they are cut into small bite size pieces.

The recipe below is for a quick, raw salad I’ve been making this summer. It’s been a hit at several potlucks including my community garden workday. Fellow gardeners were thrilled to find a use for the “edible weed” pervading their gardens.

Hip me up to your favorite uses for purslane.

Tidbits on Purslane:

  1. Purslane has been a go to food during hot weather since before Christ. It is believed to sooth the head and cool the body.
  2. Pigs, apparently, go mad for purslane. I suspect the reason for calling it “pigweed.”
  3. Nutrition:  it’s one of the best vegetable sources of omega-3 fatty acids and some suggest it should be considered a super food. “It is a good source of Thiamin, Niacin, Vitamin B6 and Folate, and a very good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Riboflavin, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Copper and Manganese.”

Source:  Hints & Pinches by Eugene Walter, a mini-reference book about herbs and spices; GourmetFood.Suite101.com.

Raw Purslane Verdolaga Weed Salad_ForkFingersChopsticks.com

Wild Purslane Verdolaga Weed Garden_ForkFingersChopsticks.com

Raw Purslane Salad

Serves 6

This salad is not strict on measurements and is meant to inspire you to make it your own. I prefer a ratio of more purslane to other vegetables.

Prepping purslane: Immediately after harvesting, cut off roots and discard thick and large stems. If you choose to use the stems, make certain to cut into bite size pieces. Place in a colander and wash the purslane numerous times to remove dirt: set the colander in a large deep bowl and fill with water, swishing the purslane by hand – the sediment will fall to the bottom bowl. Throw off water. Repeat 2 to 3 times until cleaned. Drain and allow purslane to dry off.

Ingredients

5 cups purslane, cut into 2 inch pieces

1 red bell pepper, sliced

1/4 small red Onion, sliced thin

1 – 2 tomato, sliced large chunks

5 – 8 radishes, halved and sliced thin

1/4 cup vinaigrette salad dressing

1 clove garlic, minced

Salt

Pepper

Method

Prepare and cut vegetables. Add to large bowl. Add salad dressing, season with salt and pepper. Mix well. Allow to sit for at least 30 minutes if time allows.  Serve cold or at room temperature.

Variation

Veggies:  Avocado, potatoes, cucumbers, jicama

Dressing:  Create your own or use your favorite bottled dressing

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21 Responses to Purslane: Raw Purslane Weed Salad

  1. I love cooking with purslane, too. Here in Mexico, verdolagas grow everywhere and are in the stores. My gardener asks if he can take some of my weeds home to his table. He and I share them.

    Kathleen

  2. sippitysup says:

    Weed Salad! Now that’s funny! GREG

  3. I have thought of “purslane” as a crossword puzzle word. I knew it was an edible green, but knew nothing about it, so thanks. I’ll look for it now.

  4. That’s a beautiful-looking salad. I really knew nada about purslane. And since pigs love it, I’m surprised I’ve never tried it! Oink oink!

    How can you be sure you’re not picking the wrong kind of succulent? It looks kind of generic as far as succulents go.

  5. @Kathleen: Stay tuned because you know I’m cooking up some verdolags – Mexican style.

    @Lentil Breakdown: Great question regarding picking your purslane – I’ll have to add this to the next post – pick it from an area that’s “clean,” away from high-traffic roadways, animals and chemicals. You can find a larger variety of purslane at Mexican grocery stores and get an idea of what it looks and tastes like.

  6. jess says:

    Got plenty of this. Now to get it into the salad without the girls thinking that I am crazy.

  7. I have pulled a lot of that stuff from my garden. But it was stringy and tough. Yours looks more edible than my variety. Do you think you can eat them all?

  8. OMG…I wish I knew then what I know now! I spent many an hour of my childhood ‘weeding’ this from my parents garden. And eating far too many iceberg lettuce salads.

    I’m going to pass this post along to my parents so they can now say that they grow something else in their garden.

  9. Food-G says:

    Andrea, you just made my day. Our garden– the one that didn’t get planted this summer because we’re still building the deer-proof fence– is FILLED with the stuff. I just ran out to make sure. Yep. Tasted it…delicious! Cool! We have a giant purslane garden, and it’s just right for picking. THANK YOU!

  10. @Lynne: You can discard the long, stringy stem and use the more tender offshoots. However, we also ate the big ones and found them more tender after a light boil. Just be sure to cut them small for safety reasons – I remember my brother choking on some wild spinach growing up, it was quite terrifying.

    @My Man’s Belly: Iceberg lettuce was the lettuce of choice in our house too. At least it was crisp.

    @Food-G: As you’ll see from my upcoming posts, you can eat purslane raw, sauteed,and boiled. My husband even blends in his vegetable/fruit smoothie for extra nutrition.

  11. Val Roberts says:

    Prompted by a reply to your FB post, I did some preliminary research on the therapeutic benefits for diabetics and am now really curious about its taste and how well it will sit in my stomach

    Curiousity now piqued, I wanted to try some purslane mixed in with my spring greens 2 nights ago but it was storming really hard. I tried it last night finally in a jicama chow with habanero pepper flakes, a little cilantro, salt, and lime juice. Delicious! Succulent with a light tang but not as bitter as watercress.

    I will incorporate a simple side of purslane with my rice dishes for the next few months to determine health effects.

  12. Can’t wait for your next purslane post. I just got some at the farmer’s market today. When I first tasted it, I didn’t like it, but after a few seconds it grew on me, and now I love it! I could see craving this like arugula. I just took a handful to eat raw right now, stalks and all!

  13. @Val: Yes, in the research on the nutritional value of purslane, it was eaten as a food to combat diabetes. Glad to hear you liked it. Your jicama salad sounds tasty.

    @Lentil Breakdown: I’m glad they were able to hook you up at the market. Now you’ll be able to i.d. it and pick it from the garden. I like to eat it raw and cooked. FYI, I don’t find that it has the peppery taste of arugula?

  14. I like learning something new, and this is definitely new to me. I hadn’t heard of purslane before. I wonder if I’ve been victoriously/erroneously pulling them from my yard thinking they were weeds? I’m going to look into it more and anxious to try it. Thanks for sharing…very informative!

  15. Michelle says:

    Rats! I just weeded the crack in the driveway — it was loaded with this. I put it in the compost before you inform me that it’s a tasty edible. What a missed opportunity!

  16. Sandi says:

    Researcher Artemis Simopoulos has written four papers on Purslane (Verdolagas) and it’s amazing health benefits.

    Here one for starters:
    Common purslane: a source of omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1354675

    Yummers, to the infamous weed of wonder.

    Lightly simmer in a spicy tomato sauce and serve over a bed of black beans and corn polenta. YES!

  17. Barbara Schmidt says:

    Love the fact that purslane is so rich in omega-3s…Just a tip…you can drop the sand from any leafy vegetable by adding a little vinegar to the water…it just helps to drop the sand :)

  18. Daniyal says:

    There are a number of difenreft species of purslane. If you are talking about the common purslane, Portulaca oleracea, then it will have small yellow flowers. Plant nurseries around here are carrying some cultivated varieties with lovely flowers, especially for those interested in its edible properties.

  19. I’m not worthy to be in the same forum. ROTFL

  20. wmd says:

    You put the lime in the coconut and drink the article up.

  21. This is a neat summary. Thanks for sharing!

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