“Although considered a weed in most of the United States, this green has been eaten for centuries.” – from the Joy of Cooking
It’s been ten years since Stephen Corrigan, former Produce Project coordinator at Capital Roots, told me “you can keep all of it, I don’t eat it and I don’t like it.” I was shocked. He was one of the most talented growers I knew, and I had imagined that he would enjoy eating the delicious green as much as I do. Around that same time, on a Washington County farm tour, I watched the sous chef from Mercer Kitchen excitedly snag a handful of it out of a dirt road at Sheldon Farms and pop it into his mouth. “I love this stuff”.
Purslane is a weed for the most part that grows everywhere – in gardens, flowerbeds, and sidewalk cracks. Sometimes it is included in a mesclun salad mix. Rarely is it celebrated on its own, although I do remember an episode of the TV series Top Chef where one of the contestants served a purslane puree as part of a dish (sadly I can’t remember what the rest of the dish was).
If you’ve never laid eyes on or tasted purslane, it has a beautiful Jade like appearance and a bright refreshing citrus flavor. I’ve picked and eaten it with young kids – they’re always interested to know what it is, how to recognize it, and how it can be eaten. While children may be open to eating it, I’m not sure why, as is the case with other wild edibles, it has not gained in popularity, especially among today’s adventurous salad fanatics. While it makes for a delicious salad green, it can also be cooked in recipes such as the one below – Cream of Purslane Soup.
From the Joy of Cooking, a classic soup made from the wild edible purslane.