Is Purslane the New Kale?

Purslane in a Greek salad. Image: Wikipedia.

Purslane in a Greek salad. Image: Wikipedia.

Salty, crunchy, nutritious and edible raw or cooked, purslane (Portulaca oleracea) could soon be ready for its fifteen minutes of vegetable fame. We planted some this year in our summer vegetable garden and I’ve used it in a lot of salads this week.

Purslane is a common weed in North America. We’d love to be able to forage it in the neighborhood but, for some reason, it only tends to appear in unappetizing locations: usually the gutter (I think it needs a bit more water than what falls naturally from the sky here). You can eat the whole plant: stems and leaves. It has a salty and slightly lemony flavor reminiscent of New Zealand spinach.

There’s always a huge bin of it at Super King, our local Armenian supermarket. In Armenia it’s gathered in the wild and used either raw in salads or lightly sauteed.

There’s even a World Cup tie-in. The color of the plant in South America is associated with green/white soccer uniforms.

Have you grown purslane? Foraged purslane? How do you like to eat it?

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29 Comments

  1. I’ve eaten purslane since the 1970s. I eat it all different ways, but the most over-the-top is to saute onions and bacon bits, then add the purslane and seasonings. The funniest purslane story is when my daughter, in her early 20s and playing outfielder, missed a fly ball because she was picking it and putting in her pocket to take home.

  2. I’ve eaten it the same way as Luddene, as well as in frittatas. I also find it a very acceptable substitute for okra in a gumbo–and it’s a lot easier for me to grow purslane than okra here in Upstate NY.

  3. Here in Iowa the stuff grows like…a weed. It is the one good thing to come out of areas that have been covered with the abomination known as weed barrier fabric and river rock. You just have to be careful that you do not harvest plants that have been in an area treated with various chemicals. It seems like this plant can survive even the most homicidal of chemical weapons attacks.

    Between purslane and burdock I am hoping for a weed revival. Just don’t try and sell me on roasted dandelion root “coffee.”

    • Weed barrier fabric is indeed an abomination. When we first bought our house I used some of that stuff–big mistake. It doesn’t work and breaks down into little bits of plastic which the world does not need more of!

  4. We have been eating purslane ever since an italian food specialist told us about the high omega 3 fatty acid content. We saute in stir fry but like it best cold in salad. My fav is purslane, thin radish slices, thing meyer lemon slices with rind, capers in a Meyer lemon, olive oil, thyme dressing. I serve it with mixed greens with an arugula component. After eating the local weeds for years we got seeds in Europe and now grow a more upright and leafy cultivar that lasts well into the fall in the central valley. I also grow it in the green house in the winter. My cockateil loved it as well!

    • Love your salad recipe with purslane. I’ll have to look for Meyer lemons–don’t know if our local stores carry them.

  5. I forage it from my garden when it appears (but I try not to let it get comfortable there). I like it raw. The flavor reminds me most of the seed portion of zucchini.

    I’ve seen it for sale at the Encino Sunday farmers’ market.

  6. Purslane is the main weed in my veggie patch. I definitely need to be adding it to my salads instead of cursing it :)

  7. Purslane is fine, but i find the texture a gooey and gross. I don’t mind it in a salad mix, as long as it is fresh. But it will never touch King Kale.

    • Ruben: See my comment above re: using it as an okra substitute in gumbo. (Of course, if you’re not into gooey, you might not like okra either. But for us gumbo lovers, gooey is the whole point.)

  8. Love, love, LOVE purslane, especially that slippery/oily texture and it doesn’t give me a stomach ache like kale, which I equally love, but it doesn’t love me back.

    I have only ever foraged the wild plant.

  9. My southwestern Ohio yard has heavy clay soil with a dearth of organic matter. I long ago stopped worrying about grass, and the lawn is now mostly clover. In the places where even the clover won’t take hold, there is purslane in abundance, often accompanied by lambs quarter. I haven’t tried it yet, but the article makes it sound pretty tempting!

  10. I mainly use it as a simple side, on veggie burgers and in frittata. It’s crunchy texture and slightly salty flavor works well with eggs. I’m thankful that it’s prolific in one of our paddocks – so there’s plenty to forage.

  11. I tried to grow it a few years back when I saw it growing in the wonderful vegetable garden of the Montreal Botanical garden. However I was afraid it would take over (I have seen gardens where purslane covered every single bit of open ground) and put it outside the garden proper where it did not survive! It might not have been watered enough. Your post makes me realize that I have to try it again.

  12. Sourdough toast, some feta cheese, a tomato from the garden topped with fresh purslane…Yum. Also some chopped into scrambled eggs…love it. And though it spreads through the garden pretty fast, I find it is also easy to pull out when it gets to be too much.

  13. We have summer purslane here, and we want to grow it. Does it produce seeds and if so, how do we collect them, and if they don’t make seeds how would we grow it starting with a wild plant?

    • It makes a lot of seeds! The seed pods are easy to spot and full of tiny black seeds.

  14. We have tons of purslane growing in the garden this year. I leave it go wild as I like eating a few leaves off of it every time I go out in the garden. Plus our meat rabbits love to get it as a treat.

    If you really want to use a weed barrier try Roc-Kloth. It really really works. And if you keep it covered with a mulch, it lasts forever and does not break down like all the common options you can buy at the big box stores. You do have to buy it on line tho, but the price is very comparable to the big box options.

    http://www.greenhousemegastore.com/product/roc-kloth-brown/ground-cover-fabric

  15. Here in Portugal it’s known as beldroegas. It is usually foraged (I’ve indeed been told in mostly humid places), and eaten in salads or soup – I had the good luck of finding it on the menu at a restaurant a couple of weeks ago and loved it – the broth included a whole garlic head and a small goat cheese!

  16. I harvest purslane as weed here in Riverside, CA, where it starts coming on with the heat of the summer. It grows in my veg garden, anywhere I put water down, and I let it so I can toss it on my salads in the evening. The leaves are the best, although the stalks are still pretty tasty. We normally toss them with cucumbers, feta, and either mint or basil with a mild vinagrette. I harvest it as an annual, but don’t cultivate it as it is so prolific wild. I’ll pull the leaves and small stalks up to eat, then once the plant get’s too big I’ll pull the whole thing out. It’s an easy weed to pull when you want it out. The rabbits LOVE it, so the plants we harvest are ones that grow up inside the plant-protective cages we put around everything so the critters don’t eat my garden. I have used purslane as a rabbit lure, which works really quite well when rabbit meat is abundant. I consider it a fabulous garden free-bee and look forward to it every year!

  17. My mom is the daughter of migrant farm workers. Growing up here in AZ verdolaga grew everywhere and they foraged and ate it just like nopal cactus. Amazing how ‘peasant food’ usually ends up being very good and good for you.

  18. Pingback: Picture Sundays: Gangster Kale | Root Simple

  19. This morning I was inspired to add some (along with an equal amount of kale) to my green smoothie this morning. Later, I found a cucumber purslane smoothie recipe on freshbitesdaily. Delish!

  20. This is known to me and my family as verdgoladas…….my mom always cooked it with bacon. We would forage this with cilantro at an abandoned house by our home.

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