Focus on Food: Purslane

Opting in to Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), has had a huge impact on the way we eat in a number of ways. One of those ways is encouraging us to try new foods or familiar foods in new ways.  Kicking off our food posts on this blog, we’re starting with a new-to-us vegetable that showed up in our farm share a couple weeks ago: purslane.

What is it?

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photo credit to: Dr. Umapathi Mangajji; https://www.flickr.com/photos/40994455@N06/

Purslane is a succulent that looks sort of like a baby jade plant. Also known by a variety of colorful nicknames (including duckweed, fatweed, pursley, pussley, red root, verdolagas and wild portulaca), no matter what it’s called it’s known to many as a weed.

Whether you’re in North America, Europe, or Australia, you might have some of it in your yard or neighborhood—it’s one of the most frequently reported weeds in the world. Which means as foraged food sources go, there are few as wildly easy to find! Eating it has been the preferred method of weed control in much of Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Mexico. There’s evidence that it was a part of the Native American diet in the U.S. and Canada as well.

Why people eat it

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It’s packed with a bunch of nutrition value! With more omega-3 fatty acids and Vitamin A than pretty much any other leafy plant, plus a good dose of Vitamins C & some B-complex vitamins, this plant is a bit of an under-rated super food.

It’s also pretty tasty! We found it really mild and a little sweet—sort of like spinach—with a bit of a lemony kick.

What should you know about using it

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You don’t have to eat it right away. We kept ours in a sealed container in our fridge for a little over a week and it was fine! 3-5 days might be more advisable if you want all those nutrition benefits at their peak.

It can be eaten raw or cooked. You’ll get more of those vitamins the closer to raw you eat it! Which brings me to a side note—you’ll probably spend longer prepping (picking the leaves of the stems or picking the tops off the plants) than you will cooking this one.

You’ll want to put out a towel or cloth when you’re prepping it for cooking. It has a ton of little black seeds, about the size of poppy seeds, that can make a little bit of a mess on the counter or table.

A few recipe ideas

We made a feta pesto that was so tasty and pretty darn simple. The basic recipe is at the top of the page linked below. She adds chicken and veggies, which sounds really yummy. We were in a hurry, so we just sautéed up some shrimp and tossed them in. By making the pesto ahead, dinner took us 15 minutes to make that night!

Greek Style Purslane Pesto

Farmer Dave’s (our farm share) blog has a tasty potato salad recipe that we’re excited to try next time we have a bunch of purslane on hand.

Purslane Potato Salad

Lots of folks put purslane in salads or add them to tomato-cucumber salads. If you want to try it Mexican style, try using a bit raw in tacos or in a more traditional tomatillo sauce.

Our neighbor even pickled some purslane! (Try saying that five times fast.) We haven’t had a chance to taste test it yet, but they seem to be excited about it.

Do you have a favorite purslane recipe? Share it with us in a comment below!

 

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