What to Do with Purslane

Pickled Purslane
Fried Purslane
Verdolago Con Queso
Verdolago Con Huevos
Spring Salad with Purslane and Honey Dressing

Purslane is an ubiquitous weed that grows in disturbed earth in gardens, flowers beds and lawns, at the edges of sidewalks and even in the cracks between paving stones. It is also exceptionally nutritious. According to an article published in the journal Biological Research by Artemis P Simopoulos, of the Center for Genetics, Nutrition and Health in Washington, DC, purslane is “the eighth most commonly distributed plant in the world” and is also “the richest source of omega-3 fatty acids of any green leafy vegetable yet examined.”


Purslane from the Dupont Circle farmers market in Washington D.C., July 11, 2010

Purslane contains five times as much Omega-3 as spinach, for instance. Omega-3 fatty acids, which many people take fish oil supplements to assure that they are getting enough of, can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Its culinary attributes have been known for centuries in some cultures, particularly in the Mediterranean region. It is present in the cuisines of other countries, from Mexico (where it is called verdolago) to Russia. And, not surprisingly, given how easy it is to find, it has long been a favorite of back-to-the-land types, including one of the most famous of all, Henry David Thoreau, who once declared that he “made a satisfactory dinner off a dish of purslane which I gathered and boiled.”

For those who don’t have the time or inclination to forage a dish of purslane of their own, farmers who sell at farmers markets sometimes bundle it up and offer it for sale along with their other produce. I have found it in farmers markets from California to New Jersey to Washington D.C. – looking a whole lot plumper than the purslane I’ve spotted in the wild.

A signed posted by the display of purslane that I once saw, offered by Four Sisters Farm, at the Aptos, Calif., farmers market, explained why. “Purslane grows wild in our garden. But we irrigate it and cultivate it to get it extra thick, succulent, and tasty,” said the sign, which went on to praise its culinary versatility. It can be eaten raw, steamed, stir-fried or pureed, and it also “makes a dreamy gazpacho with tomatoes, cucumbers, garlic, scallions and a vinaigrette.”

– Mark Thompson

Pickled Purslane [top]

1 quart purslane stems and leaves
3 garlic cloves, sliced
1 quart apple cider vinegar
10 peppercorns

1. Clean the purslane stems and leaves by rinsing with fresh water. Cut into 1-inch pieces and place in clean jars with lids. Add the spices and pour the vinegar over the purslane.

2. Keep this in the refrigerator and wait at least two weeks before using. Serve as a side dish with omelets and sandwiches.

Source: Texas A&M Agrilife Extension

Fried Purslane [top]

Approximately 1 cup of purslane growing tips
Beaten eggs
Ground bread crumbs

1. Collect the tender new tips of purslane – about the last two or three inches from the stems. Rinse these in water to remove any sand.

2. Roll them (or shake them) in flour until thoroughly floured, and then dip in the beaten eggs. Cover each purslane stalk with bread crumbs. This process is easiest to do if you simply line up the three dishes of flour, eggs, and bread crumbs, and do the breading production-line style.

3. When the breading is done, fry or saute each purslane stalk for about five minutes or until golden brown. Serve with catsup, mustard, or sour cream. This is a unique hors d’oeuvre for even your finest, fanciest parties.

Source: Texas A&M Agrilife Extension

Verdolago Con Queso [top]

1 quart purslane including stems
Approximately one-half cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

1. Collect tender purslane, including the stems, and carefully rinse to remove any sand or soil. Gently boil for about two minutes or until tender.

2. Drain the water and chop the purslane into smaller pieces. Return the purslane to the frying pan and shred the jack cheese over it. Keep the purslane in the pan just until the cheese melts. Be careful not to over-melt the cheese.

Source: Texas A&M Agrilife Extension

Verdolago Con Huevos [top]

2 cups purslane, with stems, diced
1 cup wild or domestic onion
1 cup nasturtium leaves and stems, diced
6 eggs

1. Carefully clean and rinse the purslane. The entire above-ground plant can be used as long as it is still tender.

2. Add the diced onion and purslane to a heated and buttered cast-iron skillet. Cook for about five minutes.

3. Add the eggs and cook omelet-style. Serve with a tomato slice.

Source: Texas A&M Agrilife Extension

Spring Salad With Purslane and Honey Dressing [top]

2 cups leaf lettuce, torn into pieces
2 cups purslane leaves, torn into pieces
2 cups spinach leaves, torn into pieces
10 radishes, sliced
Honey Dressing:
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons honey
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1 cup oil

1. Dressing: Place all ingredients in a covered jar, and shake until well blended.

2. Combine all salad greens and the radishes in a salad bowl and toss. Pour dressing over greens and toss.

Source: University of Maine Cooperative Extension