Young and Hungry

Market Research: Purslane


Ingredient: Purslane

What: Word seems to be out about purslane. When I arrived at the 14th and U streets NW farmers market on Saturday morning a mere hour and a half after opening, every vendor save one was out of the not-particularly-well-known succulent. Mexican Cultural Institute chef Patricia Jinich says the plant, known as verdolagas in Spanish, is a popular ingredient in Mexican dishes (as well as Mediterranean cuisine). It’s prized for its ability to withstand high temperatures that scorch most salad greens. It has a crisp, firm texture and will be available for the rest of the summer.

How to Buy: Young, tender plants with a bright green color are best for salads. Don’t be afraid to ask for a taste—the firm leaves should have a lemony flavor.

How to Store: Arrange loosely on a paper towel and cover. Keep refrigerated.

How to Cook: Discard the stems; they are coarse and flavorless. Jinich recommends keeping it simple with freshly squeezed lime juice, safflower (or a similarly light) oil, salt, and pepper. I served it over a few slices of heirloom tomato. For a bit more color, mix the leaves with thinly sliced radishes and macerate in lime juice for around 30 minutes. Add salt to taste, and serve as a side salad or garnish.

Photo by Phoebe Connelly

  • Alex

    Thanks for this! After turning half of my front yard into a garden and regularly weeding out the invasive Bermuda Grass (a REAL weed), I noticed this stuff popping up everywhere in the "empty" spaces between my plants. In a few spots, they were filling in nicely as ground cover, so I've let them be. Now I know I can eat them.

  • wreckfish

    Yes!! Purslane started growing like crazy in the planters on my deck. I ripped it out thinking it was a "weed" and then thought: "wait a minute, I think this might be edible." I looked it up and ate some, finding it quite tasty. I went back and replanted what I had torn up, hoping to cultivate it.

    Purslane is also THE most nutritious green, having as much omega 3 fatty acid as some fish.

    An edible weed guy on youtube suggested looking for it in forlone places - medians, alleys, etc. Obviously don't eat that stuff but use it to cultivate more. He said that the wild stuff is much tastier than the commercially grown stuff.

  • Dave

    No, no! Don't discard the stems. Just discard any woody parts. The succulent stems have more flavor than the leaves. Particularly when cooking, the stems are great. For salad, you can stick with the leaves and tender tips.