Things I Love: Purslane

June 24, 2017

I will never forget the farmer in Venice who laughed uproariously when I asked her to give me the purslane she was weeding from her fields.  “This is not for humans,” she said contemptuously, handing over great heaps of the thick slightly lemon-flavored weed. Yes, it’s a weed, but as Ralph Waldo Emerson noted, weeds are just plants whose virtues we have yet to discover.

I’m a longtime fan of this particular weed. Googling around I found this article I wrote almost twenty years ago extolling its many virtues. Thoreau was another fan. “I have made a satisfactory dinner off a dish of purslane which I gathered and boiled. Yet men have come to such a pass that they frequently starve, not from want of necessaries, but for want of luxuries.”

It puzzles me that purslane, with its satisfying crunch and easygoing flavor, isn’t better known. You can eat it raw, in soups or simply boiled. Here’s a Mexican favorite.

Purslane tacos.

Shopping list: purslane, tomatillos, a green chile, corn tacos, queso fresco.

Staples: onion, garlic.

Begin by making a quick green salsa.  Peel the papery husk off 4 tomatillos, wash them and toss them into a blender with 1 small green chile, half a small onion and a clove of garlic.  Whirl them into a thin liquid.

Take a big heap of purslane, wash it well, chop it well, and boil it for about 10 minutes. Drain.

Slick a skillet with oil and add the salsa. Bring it to a boil, turn the heat down and add the purslane. Add salt and pepper to taste. (Diana Kennedy adds cumin as well, but I prefer the tacos without.) Cook it down until it’s thickened into a lovely sludge.

Sprinkle some queso fresco across the top and served wrapped into warm tortillas.

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4 Comments

  • Carolyn Schultz Plakias says:

    Sometimes I see purslane at the Alemany farmers’ market here in San Francisco. This sounds so delicious! And looks beautiful, too. Nice photos!

  • robert half says:

    Where can I buy purslane in Israel?

    • Dear Robert,
      Buy purslane? Nah, just grow it. I have it growing in my garden now. Order some seeds online, and it should thrive in your dry climate with occasional watering.
      Best, Angela

  • Erika McManus says:

    It is delicious and probably the healthiest herb you’ll find! It goes well with any dish!

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