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Purslane - A Nutritious Green

The recent rains here in Rim Country has opened up the doors for new growth and our gardens are prospering.  Weeds too are growing and multiplying at an uncontrollable pace, but just wait a minute before you take out your weeding fork.  Some weeds are edible, for example purslane. This succulent plant, with its minute yellow flower that blooms before midday, is perhaps one of the most nutritious greens in your garden. Purslane has more beta-carotene than spinach, as well as high levels of vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, protein, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, alpha linolenic acid, a type of omega – 3 fatty acid, and much, much more.  Historically, many Native American tribes have used purslane for food and medicine. European cultures used it as a remedy for arthritis and inflammation. Chinese herbalists found similar benefits, using it for healthy circulatory and respiratory function. In Russia, people dry it for winter. In Mexico it is called verdolaga and is a favorite in omelets, rolled into tortillas, or added into soups and stews. In recent years, purslane has become the darling of some well-known chefs around the world.
How To Prepare Purslane
It is best to pick it fresh out of your garden. Wash, and remove larger stems. If you need to store it, wrap it in a moist paper towel and place it into a plastic bag. It will keep fresh for a few days in the vegetable bin of your refrigerator. Some recipes use leaves only. It is a good substitute for spinach or wild greens. The seeds can be ground and added to flour to increase its food value.
Purslane Recipes
Purslane is very mild with a slightly sour taste, due to its oxalic acid. Here are some recipes I have tried and truly enjoyed its delicious taste.
Purslane Salad With Cucumber
Mix one cucumber sliced into small pieces, one handful purslane, 1 tbsp olive oil, one garlic clove, a little peppermint and a dash of ground coriander, into a bowl. Add one cup yogurt, mix well add a little ground pepper for taste. Serve chilled.
Purslane Pasta
Combine in bowl 5 cups cooked pasta, 3 cups fresh purslane leaves, 3 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half and ½ cup minced green onions. In another bowl mix together 1 tbsp mustard, 4 tbsp olive oil, 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar or herbal vinegar and 1 minced garlic clove. Combine the pasta mix with the dressing and let this marinated for several hours in the refrigerator. Serve cold.
Purslane Potatoes
Scrub one pound red potatoes, cut in chunks. Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add potatoes and 1 tbsp herbes de Provence and cook without stirring for 5 minutes until the bottoms begin to brown. Turn potatoes, cover and reduce heat to low for about 10 - 15 minutes, or until tender. Toss cooked potatoes with 2 tbsp lemon juice and 2 cups purslane leaves.  Serve room temperature.
Purslane Spread
This is my absolute favorite dip and sandwich/pita bread spread. In a food processor chop about 2 cups walnuts, 2 tbsp walnut oil or olive oil, 1 cup purslane, 2 tsp lemon juice, 1 garlic clove, 1 stalk celery, 1 red bell pepper, 1 tomato and a little of your favorite seasoning. Spread on toast, into a pita pocket with a sliced avocado, or simply dip your favorite vegetables. Again, other nuts and vegetables can be substituted.
Add purslane to your salsa, omelets, salads, rice, as a garnish, in your tabouli, a substitute for spinach, etc. Let your imagination run wild with you in your kitchen. If you prefer to follow recipes check out this website, They list many delicious gourmet recipes made with purslane, guaranteed you will drool. Bon appetite!
In many cultures, purslane was used as a cosmetic, to cleanse, heal and tighten the skin. It is very similar to aloe vera. To make a skin cleanser, juice one cup of purslane and add it to one cup of distilled water. Wash your face, then apply the purslane tea. Wait for 3 minutes before rinsing it off. You may find that this refreshing treatment for your skin can smooth out a few wrinkles.
Now that you found the wonderful virtues of this plant but have already pulled it out of your garden, don’t worry, it will come back. This tenacious plant produces up to 52,000 seeds, which can survive for up to 30 years in undisturbed soil.
Caution: Anytime you pick in the wild, make sure you have correctly identified the plant you want to use. Please check with your local nursery or a knowledgeable friend for accuracy. You may also call me at 928-476-4144 and I can help you with any questions you may have.

Written by Leilah