Saturday, July 10, 2010


Some weeds are tastier than others, and the lemon crunch of purslane makes it really desirable to eat. Yeah, yeah, it's great for you and all that (more Omega 3s than any other land plant), and free and growing in the cracks of your sidewalk, but its flavor makes it one of those plants that makes you wonder why you haven't always been eating it.

Purslane is a succulent, like a jade plant or aloe or cactus. It's the kind of plant they tell Southern Californians to plant close to their house to help save it from wildfires. Succulents store a large amount of liquid in their leaves, or their stems or roots. The liquid in purslane can be used as a thickener in soups, similar to okra.

But the tastiest use of purslane by far is raw, in salads, or added after cooking, and the leaves, flowers, and stems can all be eaten. Greeks and North Africans have made use of purslane the longest, so its no wonder that the majority of purslane recipes combine it with cucumbers, mint, parsley, or yogurt. Mexico uses this plant as their parsley (called verdolagas), adding it raw to cooked foods for crunch, color, and tang.

Here are two recipes that make good use of mid-summer produce:

Grilled Zucchini Salad with Purslane and Tomato
Gourmet | August 2002

  • 1 t finely grated fresh lemon zest
  • 3 T fresh lemon juice
  • 1 T finely chopped shallot
  • 1/4 t Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/3 c extra-virgin olive oil plus additional for brushing zucchini
  • 1/4 t black pepper
  • 3 T chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 4 zucchini (1 3/4 to 2 lb total), halved lengthwise
  • 12 oz purslane, thick stems removed (4 c)
  • 10 oz pear or cherry tomatoes, halved lengthwise
Prep Prepare grill for cooking. If using a charcoal grill, open vents on bottom of grill. 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. 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. Toss zucchini with purslane, tomatoes, and dressing in a large bowl. Serve immediately.

Chopped Arabic Salad
Gourmet | May 2004

  • 1 lemon
  • 3/4 t sea salt
  • 1/4 t freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 T olive oil
  • 2 (1/2-lb) cucumbers, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and cut into 1/4-inch dice (2 1/3 c)
  • 1 lb tomatoes (3 medium), cut into 1/3-inch dice (2 1/2 cups)
  • 1 c finely chopped red onion (1 small) or 1 cup chopped scallions (about 5)
  • 1 c purslane leaves and flowers (break off with your hands rather than chopping to keep the visual appeal of the plant)
  • 1 c finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (from 1 large bunch)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh mint
prep Cut peel, including all white pith, from lemon with a sharp paring knife. Working over a bowl, cut segments from half of lemon free from membranes and transfer segments to a cutting board, then squeeze juice from membranes and remaining 1/2 lemon into bowl. Transfer 2 tablespoons juice to a large bowl, then finely chop segments and add to measured juice. Add salt, pepper, and oil, whisking to combine, then stir in remaining ingredients.

1 comment:

  1. We barbequed last night, so I took the opportunity to grill some of the beautiful summer squash from our CSA. I made a mix of these two recipes with the purslane, food from our farm, and mint from our garden: let's call it weed, farm, & garden salad. There was no lemon, no mustard, and only a tiny bit of tomato. I intended to use the chopped stuff on top of beautiful slices of grilled squash, but got distracted chatting with friends and chopped the grilled squash, too, and threw it in. It didn't look as gorgeous that way, but with a touch of smoked sea salt, it's flavor was pretty fantastic. The grilled squash and the crunchy purslane led the way, with the other ingredients rounding out the flavors. Easy and delicious.