Purslane is a sprawling annual that grows wild throughout much of the world. It has been used as a food plant for hundreds of years in southern Europe and the Middle East. An important source of iron and vitamin C, purslane is also among the best plant sources of the fatty acids that help to maintain a healthy heart: Omega-3.
About Taste: Purslane has little aroma; the stems and fleshy leaves have a refreshing, lightly piquant, astringent, lemony taste, and a crunchy, juicy texture.
Parts Used: Leaves and young shoots. Purslane is always eaten fresh. The flowers can be added to salads.
Buying & Preserving: Fresh purslane will keep for 2–3 days in a plastic bag in the vegetable crisper of the fridge. In summer time Greek and Turkish markets normally have large bunches of purslane. In Mexico, you find it readily in markets.
Herb Gardening: Purslane does best on moist, light soil in a sunny place. Seeds can be sown outdoors from early summer time, and the leaves are ready to harvest around 60 days later. In hot, dry climate it’ll need extra watering than other herbs. Cut purslane a little above the ground, leaving two leaves for regrowth. For salad, harvest young purslane leaves frequently because older leaves turn into tough. Yellow flowers appear in summer time, but only open for a short time around midday.
Young purslane leaves make an agreeable addition to a salad. In the Middle East, chopped purslane with a garlicky yogurt dressing is served as an accompaniment to grilled meats. The herb is also a typical ingredient of fattoush, the Lebanese salad. Blanch older leaves to use as a vegetable. Cooking emphasizes their mucilaginous content, which provides a very good thickening for soups and stews. In Turkey, large bunches of purslane are used in a traditional lamb and bean stew, and all around the Mediterranean it turns up in soups. The Mexicans cook purslane with pork, tomatillos, and chile peppers, especially smoky chipotles. Purslane combines well with spinach tossed in olive oil and lemon juice.
Fresh sprigs and flowers: Green purslane has oblong, thick, succulent leaves and a round stem tinged with red. Golden purslane (P. sativa) is a smaller plant and is much less hardy.
Good with beets, eggs, cucumber, feta cheese, spinach, fava beans, new potatoes, tomatoes, yogurt. Combines well with borage, arugula, chervil, salad burnet, cresses, and sorrel.