Think of it as a weed, and you’ll be missing out on one of the most nutritious greens on the planet. Purslane has more beta-carotene than spinach*, as well as high levels of magnesium and potassium. Historically it has been used as a remedy for arthritis and inflammation by European cultures. Chinese herbalists found similar benefits, using it in respiratory and circulatory function. Recently, it’s been found that purslane has alpha linolenic acid, a type of omega-3 fatty acid. Researchers see evidence that these substances lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels as well as make the blood less likely to form clots. And, purslane has only 15 calories per 100 g portion.
World wide there are approximately 19 genera and approximately 500 species of purslane. The U.S. is home to 9 genera alone. It is most commonly found in the warm temperate regions of the northern hemisphere. Purslane exhibits the most species diversity in Western North America and South Africa, where it is likely to have originated. Part of the reason for its evolutionary success is that a single plant can produce up to 52,300 seeds. What’s more, purslane seeds can survive for up to 30 years in undisturbed soil. Several ancient cultures have included purslane as a part of their cuisine, including those of Greece and Central America. Russians dry and can it for the winter. In Mexico it is called verdolaga and is a favorite comfort food. There, it is eaten in omelets, as a side dish, rolled in tortillas, or dropped by handfuls into soups and stews.
2 cups purslane, chopped
1 hard-boiled egg, roughly chopped
½-1 cup lettuce or chard leaves, chopped
1/4 cup cheddar cheese (or other semi hard cheese), diced into small bits
3 green onions, chopped
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Olive oil to taste OR mayo or greek yogurt to taste
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 ripe avocado, peeled, chopped, if avail.
1. Mix up everything!
GRILLED ZUCCHINI & PURSLANE SALAD
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh lemon zest
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil plus additional for brushing zucchini
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
4 zucchini (1 3/4 to 2 lb total), halved lengthwise
12 oz purslane, thick stems removed (4 cups)
10 oz pear or cherry tomatoes, halved lengthwise
1. Prepare grill for cooking. If using a charcoal grill, open vents on bottom of grill.
2. Make dressing: Whisk together zest, lemon juice, shallot, mustard, and salt in a small bowl. Add oil in a slow stream, whisking until dressing is emulsified. Whisk in pepper and parsley.
3. Grill zucchini: Lightly brush zucchini all over with oil. When fire is hot (you can hold your hand 5 inches above rack for 1 to 2 seconds), grill zucchini, cut sides down first, on lightly oiled grill rack, uncovered, turning once, until zucchini are just tender, 8 to 12 minutes total. Transfer to a cutting board and cool slightly, then cut diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick slices.
4. Toss zucchini with purslane, tomatoes, and dressing in a large bowl. Serve immediately.
MEXICAN PURSLANE STUFFING
This is a home-type dish that is as simple to prepare as “scrambled eggs with…” but much more nutritious. Serve as a side dish, a brunch main dish or as a filling in tortillas and pitas.
1 to 1 pounds fresh purslane
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
teaspoon finely chopped fresh garlic
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 medium-size ripe tomato, chopped (not skinned)
1 SERRANO or jalapeno chile, finely chopped, or freshly cracked black pepper, according to taste
2 to 3 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 egg beaten
1. Set aside a few raw springs of purslane for garnish. Steam or blanch the rest until tender-crisp (three to five minutes). Drain thoroughly, transfer to a plate covered with several layers of paper towels and blot dry.
2. In a large pan, saute garlic and onion in vegetable oil until soft. Add tomato and chile, and saute until the mixture becomes sauce-like. Season with soy sauce. (If you aren¹t using the chile, add freshly ground black pepper.) Saute until mixture is warm and the flavors marry.
3. When ready to serve, add the beaten egg to the warm mixture in the pan and mix gently. The egg will bind the mixture loosely but should not harden into scrambled eggs. Garnish plate servings with reserved sprigs.
5 large Cucumbers, peeled, seeded and cut into quarter-round slices
1/4 pound Purslane, large stems removed, washed and drained well
2 tablespoons each, Fresh chopped mint, cilantro and chervil
4 cups Whole milk yogurt
1/4 cup Virgin olive oil
3 cloves Garlic, puréed with the blade of a knife
2 teaspoon ground Coriander
Kosher Salt and ground Black Pepper
1. Place the cucumber, purslane and herbs into a large bowl. In another bowl, stir together the yogurt, olive oil and garlic, coriander and season to taste with salt. Add the yogurt mixture to the vegetables and mix well. Add a pinch of ground black pepper. Taste the dressed cucumber-purslane salad for seasoning, adding a little more salt if needed. Serve chilled.