I’m still receiving a weekly box of CSA veggies, and recently one of the boxes surprised me with a plant I didn’t recognize. After some research online, I discovered it was purslane, so I began a hunt for recipes I could use it in. While doing so, I discovered that purslane is basically a miracle plant. This invasive weed is just packed with nutrition, and the best part is that you can usually find it for free growing out of a crack somewhere (just be sure it hasn’t been sprayed with pesticides).
What’s it taste like? Well, it’s a succulent, which means it’s full of water; this gives it a watery crunch akin to bean sprouts, but with a mild lemony-peppery flavor. You can use it in the same way you would use sprouts, blend it into a smoothie, add some to a salad, or use it in place of the greens in your favorite recipes. Check out the photo to see what it looks like in an urban setting.
Purslane nutritional breakdown:
- Very high in Omega-3′s – higher than any other green plant.
- High in vitamins A (really high) & C, and also contains vitamin B & E
- Purslane is full of minerals like magnesium and iron
- 1 cup of purslane contains 90 mg of calcium and 561 mg of potassium
- A good source of antioxidants and amino acids
Purslane also has medicinal properties:
- It’s a natural antidepressant
- Protects against free radicals
- A poultice of the herb can be used to treat burns, rashes, bug bites and bee stings
- Tea made with purslane can ease a headache or stomachache
- 2 C pasta (I used Schar gluten-free fusilli)
- 1 handful shredded carrot
- 2 handfuls purslane
- Balsamic vinegar
- Olive oil
- Sea salt
Cook the pasta according to package directions, after salting the water. Add carrot to boiling water with 3 minutes left on the timer. Meanwhile, discard the roots from your purslane, and break it into smaller pieces. Rinse well and leave in the colander. When pasta is done, pour it out on top of the washed purslane, and leave in the colander for a minute or two. This will wilt the purslane. Put everything back in your pot and add a splash of both balsamic and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and then stir well. Top with feta just before serving.
I served this with a side of fried tofu for protein and it was just delicious! Note: purslane requires only minimal cooking. If cooked too long, it becomes slimy and unappetizing. That is why I relied on nothing more than dumping the boiling pasta water over the purslane to cook it.
Beware the Spurge!
Spurge is a plant that looks very similar to purslane and grows under the same conditions, sometimes side-by-side with purslane. You can tell them apart by what’s on the inside – spurge is filled with a milky liquid, like a dandelion; while purslane is filled with water – it will be clear.