I love to cook and try new foods and recipes. I try to do my best to incorporate healthy foods, but sometimes I need a little comfort food.
An Accidental, But Happy Discovery
About two weeks ago, a weed came up where I had cleared the grass away and set down some stepping stones. The weed looked very much like a succulent, but here in the northeastern region of the United States, succulents grow outside only when planted, and they don’t overwinter well. A bell went off, and I remember reading an article about foraging purslane. Sure enough, this weed was unmistakably purslane.
Usually, I am reluctant to try foraged plants—often, the descriptions or pictures I find aren’t clear enough to reassure me that the plant is safe. However, this particular plant I found in my garden could only be one thing: purslane. Not only is it easily identifiable, but it is so common it is really not hard to find everywhere.
What Does Purslane Look Like?
Purslane has distinctive reddish woody stems. The leaves are deep bright green, teardrop-shaped, and plump, very much like the leaves of a succulent. Although it might grow anywhere, look for it at the edge of a lawn where there are bare patches or along a dirt driveway.
If you can't find it growing wild, it's easy to grow from seed in Zones 5–10.
Purslane Is Super Healthy and Nutrient Dense
I did a little internet research and found that purslane is very nutritious. It has the highest omega 3 content of any green vegetable; it is in the form of alpha-linolenic acid.
Purslane Nutrition Information
|Nutrient||Unit||1Value per 100 g||1 cup = 43.0g||1 plant = 3.0g|
Total lipid (fat)
Carbohydrate, by difference
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid
Vitamin A, IU
Fatty acids, total trans
How to Cook With Purslane
From what I have read, people do cook purslane the way they would any other vegetable. Just steam it in a little water and add seasonings of your choice. The extremely woody stems should be removed before cooking, as they may never become tender.
How to Harvest
I chose to cut mine with clippers instead of uprooting it. That way the plant keeps growing and producing. I was careful to select from an area of the lawn that had not been treated with chemicals.
Can You Eat Raw Purslane?
I decided the nutritional value would best be preserved if I ate it raw. Purslane needs minimal prep in a salad, and it is delicious. It has a mild flavor, but more importantly, it has a unique texture. No vegetable comes to my mind that has the same texture and crunch.
Below are my guidelines (I hesitate to say recipe) for adding purslane to a salad.
Purslane, Cucumber, and Tomato Salad
- Wash the purslane well, rinsing several times. I like to add a lot of salt to one of the rinses and let it soak in that for a while. This step eases my mind that any microscopic insects were killed. Remove the green leaves from the woody red stems.
- Prepare the cucumber. I like to peel mine, as it makes it easier to digest. After halving it lengthwise, I scoop out some of the biggest seeds. (I found that a grapefruit spoon works well for this, but a regular teaspoon or melon baller would work, too). Cut the cucumber into 1/2-inch cubes.
- Tomatoes come next. I have used cherry tomatoes and chunks of regular tomatoes. In the picture above, I used halved grape tomatoes.
- Adding a dressing is unnecessary in my mind, although I did once add chopped basil leaves. If you need a little more zing, a tiny bit of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar would work well. Taste it plain first, and then decide.
- Toss and chill.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2019 Ellen Gregory
Ellen Gregory (author) from Connecticut, USA on September 08, 2019:
I wish I knew purslane was edible when I was a child. My grandparent's driveway was covered with it. I used to weed it for them and throw the purslane away.
Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on September 03, 2019:
As a child, we used to gather purslane in the fields. They grew wild in our part of the world and we add it to whatever soup we have. We never uproot them as they just keep growing and giving us more. I like though your salad recipe and will try it when I go home.
Ellen Gregory (author) from Connecticut, USA on September 03, 2019:
Although Purslane looks like an herb, it is not an herb. It does not have the intense flavor of an herb. It is a green vegetable.
Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on September 02, 2019:
Purslane is new to me and i have great interest in herbs from many parts of the world and haven't come across this one until I spotted it on here. my great interest in herbal plants comes from my new experiences from both worlds, South Africa and Croatia. I found your hub informative and and helpful to me.
Thelma Alberts from Germany on September 01, 2019:
I have purslane plants in my tropical garden in the Philippines. They are beautiful flowers. I did not know that I can eat them. I have to try that. Thanks for sharing.
Liz Westwood from UK on August 31, 2019:
I had not heard of purslane before. This is an interesting and informative article.
Ellen Gregory (author) from Connecticut, USA on August 30, 2019:
I never thought of putting them in grape leaves. Hmmmm.
Char Milbrett from Minnesota on August 30, 2019:
We have a lot of purslane in our yard. Its nice to know, but i dont know if i can convince the hubby to eat them. Maybe if i add them inside the stuffed grape leaves... but then,who will trust my cooking or my concoctions... smile!