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I have never planted purslane, yet it appears every spring in my garden. Like many other weeds, purslane is not only edible but also far more nutritious than many of the crops that we plant! Learn more about purslane’s health benefits and how to cook purslane.
Common purslane, Portulaca oleracea, is a succulent used in Greek and Italian cooking, even though it’s often seen as a weed here. Immigrants from India originally brought it with them, it then escaped into gardens and backyards and is now naturalized all over the world. Over the many centuries, purslane has been treated as a medicinal wonder, a cultivated ornamental, an annoying weed, and an edible leafy green!
Purslane leaves resemble those of a tiny jade plant. When plucked for recipes, they lend a lemony, tangy flavor that’s reminiscent of sorrel; it’s a good substitute for watercress, spinach, and arugula.
Amazingly, purslane is one of the world’s most nutritious wild edible plants. It’s now considered a “superfood” and is showing up in farmer’s markets and even “fancy” restaurants all over the country, often in salads or sandwiches. Meanwhile, most gardeners will find purslane growing right in their vegetable beds!
Purslane is a plant that most of us here in North America consider a weed. Because I now know it’s a healthy green, I let it grow in between my rows of carrots and beets and in other places where it isn’t bothering my veggies. Once it is touching my crops, I take it out and eat it!
To harvest purslane, it’s a good idea to pull it up completely, then cut off the stems from the piece attached to the root.
Compost the rest of the plant (the root) or feed it to your chickens! Some companies are now actually selling purslane seeds so that it can be added to a garden on purpose. A delightful, nutritious extra for the enthusiastic gardener.
How to Cook Purslane
How do people eat purslane? Once you’ve cut off the root, the individual stems need to be washed carefully. Purslane has little crevices to hold the soil, so you really need to use a hose to get ALL the dirt off.
Purslane is usually tossed into salads or added to soups in the Mediterranean area.
In Mexico, it’s a favorite addition to omelets.
Purslane can also be lightly steamed for 4 to 5 minutes, then served with salt and a little butter.
Purslane goes very well with cucumber and topped with some oil-and-vinegar dressing.
Also, try adding purslane to smoothies or juicing it.
Or try adding this nutrient-packed green to any soup. I like to add purslane to my bone broth soup which is delicious! (You can also add seasonal lamb quarters, dandelions, nettles, amaranth, and herbs for health.)