Phone

Foods

Purslane
Why Eat It
Availability
Preparation


Why Eat It

Often dismissed as a weed, domesticated varieties of the herb purslane (Portulaca oleracea) have fleshy, wedge-shaped leaves growing on low, ground-hugging plants. Purslane has a tangy, piquant flavor and its texture is succulent and mucilaginous, similar to okra. Along with its unusual flavor and texture, what distinguishes purslane is its rich reservoir of omega-3 fatty acids, which may help prevent heart attacks. In addition, vitamin E, vitamin C, and beta-carotene as well as the antioxidant glutathione are found in purslane.

Purslane is cultivated in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Spain, and other European countries. Purslane is very popular in the Mediterranean region where it is enjoyed in soups and salads. It is also a popular winter vegetable in northern India. While purslane can be found growing wild in fields and vacant lots, it is best to obtain it from specialty stores or farmers markets to avoid contamination from herbicides.

Availability

Specialty shops and farmers markets sometimes sell purslane, which is generally rather difficult to obtain commercially.

Preparation

Both the stems and leaves of purslane are edible, and can be served raw in salads, or cooked. The younger, more tender purslane is best for salads. Because purslane grows close to the ground, it needs a good washing to remove the sand and grit.

If you've ever cooked with okra, you'll have some idea how to handle purslane. If it's added to a soup or a stew, you won't need to worry about its consistency. But if you intend to serve cooked purslane on its own, or in a dish such as verdolago con queso, a Mexican dish of cooked purslane with melted cheese, be careful to cook (steam or microwave) the purslane only briefly. If cooked too long, the purslane gets distinctly slimy. And, like okra, purslane is often pickled.



Date Published: 04/20/2005
Previous  |  Next
> Printer-friendly Version Return to Top