Boiled Purslane Recipes

It's an easy thing to pick purslane and add a few leaves to a salad, but if you want to take advantage to this free health booster, eat more than a few leaves now and then! It makes an excellent boiled side vegetable.

To boil it, pick whole stems, pinch off leaves that are damaged and wash the grit and dirt from the rest. You can cook whole stems with leaves, but I prefer it chopped.

Cook it in water (or steam; steaming takes a little longer) for about 10 minutes and remove from heat immediately. Some people rinse it with cold water to stop the cooking process, but I think some of the goodness is lost when the purslane is rinsed. If you don't want to overcook it, stop it at eight minutes instead of 10. Serve it lightly salted.

For variations on this, you can chop cooked bacon into it, lightly sprinkle lemon juice on it, use a cheese sauce on it, or serve it Italian style, with Parmesan cheese, garlic and oregano added to taste.

Purslane makes a really good, cheesy casserole, no matter what kind of cheese sauce you prefer. Using two cups of cleaned and chopped purslane, add a quarter cup of minced onion. Beat one egg and a half cup of plain yogurt together and mix in the rest of the ingredients. Bake at 350 until the egg is set, about a half hour.

Purslane Pleasures

Image courtesy of ZooFari via Wikimedia Commons
Possibly the most desirable and common of all edible weeds, purslane grows abundantly where the soil has been disturbed, as in a garden, and where water is sufficient, also in a garden.

You may have tried to get rid of it, thinking it was an intrusive weed, as I did for many years. When I discovered that it's not only edible, but it's delicious, there wasn't enough of it growing!

Over the years, I have learned to use it in many ways. It's a powerhouse of nutrition and one of the very few vegetable sources of Omega 3 fatty acids. it tastes different when it's harvested at different times of the day and it keeps well in the refrigerator. It continues to set seed even after it's picked, which is good, because the seed is good, too. What's not to like about it?

As a weed, it's persistent to the utmost. If you've tried to get rid of it, you know this. It regrows from the root as well as seed and it's hard to pull all of the root out because the stem breaks cleanly. Purslane has this survival thing down to an art and a science!

Which means, for the backyard forager, that you probably will never run out.

Let me explain a few statements I made. Purslane has a tangy, fresh flavor when it's picked early in the morning. As the day wears on, the taste becomes less tangy, so with a little practice, you can choose just the flavor you want.

The leaves, stems, flowers and seeds are all edible and good food. The fleshy stems make excellent pickles along with the leaves. If the plant is flowering, just pickle the whole thing. You can also dip purslane stems, leaves and flowers in beaten egg, cornmeal and flour, then fry like okra. 

The seeds are great in hot cereal and they're not hard to gather, although they are a tiny grain. When purslane begins to flower, put a piece of cloth under them and when the seed begins to ripen, it will fall onto the cloth. Shake the plants now and then to get the best harvest, separate the seeds from the chaff and there you go. Mill it into flour to add to wheat flour for breads.

Purslane provides a green vegetable steamed or boiled like any other green. Don't overcook and don't add anything but a little salt until you taste them, then you can decide. They go great with fried or scrambled eggs.

What else? Don't try to freeze or dehydrate them, but they do survive the canning process well. As I mentioned, pickled is very good, but you can process them like other greens, too.


Back Yard Foraging

If you don't poison weeds in your back yard, you probably have a good source of food just for the taking. You don't have to plant it or water it or weed it or feed it because "weeds" grow in a habitat that suits them without interference from us.

Of course, a little care without overdoing it will help produce more food.

I'm talking about dandelions, purslane, amaranth, lambsquarter and the like. If you're not sure of what they look like, do some research and find pictures of them. Although the ones I listed are mostly used as greens, they can be used for other things, too.

For instance, dandelions make dandelion "coffee" and dandelion tea, wine, salad material and more. Lambsquarter and amaranth provide grains for cereal and bread and purslane is great pickled or fried like okra.

Getting the most from the ground you have is a way of living like country folk in the middle of the city. If you don't have a back yard, find someone who does, or get a little plain dirt and a few weed seeds and grow your own in the window!