45 Things To Do With Purslane

Have you ever cooked with purslane, or Portulaca oleracea as it is known to botanists? It is a succulent plant whose edible, delicious leaves are crunchy and slightly mucilaginous, with a tangy lemony and peppery flavor.

It is generally harvested from early June till the end of summer, and can either be foraged or purchased, usually from a farmers market or through a CSA share. The wild variety, which is actually considered a weed by many gardeners, is rampant and has pinkish stems (see picture above), while cultivated varieties tend to grow vertically and display greenish stems.

Purslane has been consumed since ancient times, and because it grows easily in hot and not too dry climates, it is represented in many cuisines of the world, from Greece to Mexico, and from Turkey to India by way of South Africa. (Here’s a handy list of its aliases in different languages.)

It is a bit of a nutritional powerhouse, offering remarkable amounts of minerals (most notably calcium, iron, magnesium, and potassium), omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins (A, B, C), and antioxydants. It is thought to be an important component of the Cretan high-life-expectancy diet, and Michael Pollan has called it one of the two most nutritious plants on the planet in his In Defense of Food manifesto (the other is lamb’s quarters if you want to hunt for that too).

Although the stems are edible when still young (and can be pickled), cooks usually keep only the leaves and thin, spindly stems at the top, which are simply plucked from the central stem. The process is slow-going, but rewarding in the end. Because purslane grows so close to the earth, and especially if it is foraged*, it should be rinsed very well, in several baths of fresh water (I usually do three), with a bit of vinegar.

And once you have your bowlful of squeaky clean and vibrant little leaves, what do you do with them? Purslane is mostly eaten raw, but can also be cooked for a change of pace. I’ve gathered 45 inspiring suggestions for you — and hope you’ll add your own favorites in the comments section!

* Some people report that they find it growing from sidewalk cracks or in city parks, but I wouldn’t recommend foraging it from there.

Purslane pairings

- Purslane + cucumber
- Purslane + tomato
- Purslane + avocado
- Purslane + nuts (esp. almonds and walnuts)
- Purslane + garlic
- Purslane + lemon
- Purslane + vinegar
- Purslane + marjoram
- Purslane + chili pepper
- Purslane + eggs
- Purslane + cream
- Purslane + fresh cheese (esp. feta)
- Purslane + hard cheese (esp. parmesan)
- Purslane + fish
- Purslane + shellfish
- Purslane + duck
- Purslane + lamb
- Purslane + legumes (esp. black beans, lentils, and chickpeas)
- Purslane + stone fruits (esp. peaches, nectarines, and plums)

Purslane in salads

- Purslane salad with sesame oil, rice vinegar, gomasio, and strips of nori
- Purslane and potato salad with capers or anchovies
- Purslane salad with chunks of peaches and fresh goat cheese, or with a peach dressing
- Fattouche salad with toasted chips of pita bread
- Purslane salad with a white dressing (i.e. a classic vinaigrette with cream or buttermilk in place of oil)
- Purslane salad with black barley and watermelon
- Purslane salad with diced red bell peppers, lemon juice, and olive oil (the vitamin C in the bell peppers and lemon juice helps with the iron absorbency)
- Purslane salad with grilled corn and a creamy avocado dressing
- Purslane salad with walnuts, crispy bacon, and finely diced red onion
- Purslane salad with quinoa, peas, and radishes
- Purslane salad with diced tomatoes and cucumbers in a pomegranate molasses dressing
- Purslane salad with fregola sarda or Israeli couscous
- Purslane salad with chickpeas and a zaatar dressing
- Purslane salad with walnuts, sumac, and “grated” tomatoes

Purslane with meat

- Serve as a side salad with duck magret
- Stew with pork in a tomatillo sauce, Mexican-style (puerco con verdolagas)
- Stew with lamb and lentils

Purslane with fish

- Use purslane in a stuffing for baked fish
- Process purslane with a little cream or yogurt and make a green sauce to drizzle over fish
- Serve as a side salad with wild salmon, lobster, or crab

Purslane soups

- No-cook cucumber and purslane soup
- Portuguese purslane soup with potatoes
- Purslane and almond soup, adapted from this green bean and almond soup

Cooked purslane

- A Moroccan-style cooked salad
- Purslane spanakopita
- Purslane borek
- Sauté briefly (2-5 min) in olive oil
- Steam briefly (2-5 min) and dress with olive oil and lemon juice
- Make tempura with the tender tops
- Add to dal

Purslane in beverages

- Make green smoothies (purslane will make them creamier) with blueberries, kiwis, peaches, or tropical fruit (it’s okay to freeze purslane for use in smoothies)
- Make a cucumber and purslane slushie
- Make tea with the leaves; it is said to help ease headaches, bring down a fever, soothe sore throats, and combat inflammation.

Other purslane uses

- Pickled purslane
- Purslane vinegar
- Purslane pesto
- Purslane tzatziki (use purslane instead of, or in addition to the cucumber)
- Add to scrambled eggs and omelets
- Make green pancakes (recipe from my book!)
- Toss with pasta as in this pasta with tetragon
- Sprinkle over pizza just before serving
- Use as a garnish for gazpacho, chilled zucchini soup, or asparagus soup
- Add to sandwiches for crunch; it would be great in a lobster roll or an ABLT.
- Add to salsa and salsa verde
- And if you ever tire of it, feed it to your chickens! Their eggs will be richer in omega-3 fatty acids.

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  • http://trattoriascorpacciata.blogspot.com seth

    thanks for this list. it’s certainly a common plant/weed in our community garden…

  • brassfrog

    WOW! When I think of the hundreds of pounds of the stuff I ripped up from my garden and just threw it in the composter… :) (Over the course of 25 years. )

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      Ah well, at least it got composted, not thrown out! :)

  • http://www.giverecipe.com zerrin

    Purslane is one of my favorite herbs! I didn’t know it has that many uses! Thanks for including my borek in your list! I’d like to add one more use if it’s ok. Purslane is great with strained(greek) yogurt too. We mix them together and add mashed garlic, it’s a very tasty mezze in Turkish cuisine!

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      Thank you Zerrin! It sounds a bit like Greek tzatziki. What’s the name of this mezze in Turkish?

  • http://omeletta.com Ruthy @ Omeletta

    thank you so much for this. I love salads with raw purslane, even though my mother turns her nose up at it, claiming its a weed and inedible! I’m looking forward to using this list as proof that she’s incorrect :)

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      Is she the kind of person that may be swayed by the nutrition argument? Or perhaps you can just call it pourpier and pretend it’s another plant altogether? :)

  • http://www.chocolateandvegetables.com Catherine

    Thanks for these ideas–I’m going to have to start taking a closer look at some of our local weed patches now!

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      Definitely — do let me know what you find!

  • http://www.simplyhealthyfam@gmail.com Gwen @simplyhealthyfamily

    Wow! Good to know!!

  • sillygirl

    Wow – I thought I was the only one getting excited by purslane – finally found some growing in a neighbor’s yard after getting blank stares at the garden store plus I had to convince my husband that is was a good thing to eat and now I’m seeing it written about everywhere. Hooray – it is so nutritious!!!

  • http://mycookingincanada.com/ Gita @ My Persian Cooking in Canada

    For years I treated these babies as weed ,I didn’t know they are edible at all !!!
    Thank you

  • http://meltingpotaufeu.wordpress.com/ Yohann

    I love using this. I grows everywhere. It has a tangy lemonish taste that works so well in salads!

  • http://j-ouellette.com Llyane @ FrenchOnSkype

    I am vegetarian and it’s always hard to make food more ‘interesting’, so thank you for making me aware of this herb – I’ll try to remember it when I go to my organic store :)

    Llyane

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      I agree — this kind of discovery does a lot to shake things up! I hope you find and enjoy it.

  • Josephine M. Lian

    We make this as a vegetarian dish:

    Saute 1 onion and garlic for a few min, then add purslane with diced apple (I use any kind), stew until soft, this is a middle eastern dish.

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      That sounds wonderful! The apple sounds like an especially successful pairing.

  • Filiz

    Hi Clothilde, partial Turk here, but wholehearted fan of purslane. As far as I know, that meze in Turkish is just yogurtlu semizotu (‘yogurt-y purslane’) though I may be wrong…

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      Thank you Filiz!

  • Catherine

    I’m inspired! I bought a big bunch at the farmer’s market for $1.50 and wilted it in a pan with low-acid heirloom tomatoes and a touch of wine. I had it alongside seared tilapia, and it was delicious!

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      I’m so glad, Catherine, and your dinner sounds lovely indeed.

  • vgus89

    I grew up eating purslane in Mexico, never knew it had so many health benefits.

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      It must be fun to find out years after the fact!

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