Purslane, Portulaca oleracea, has long been deemed an undesirable plant in the United States and garnered a spot on the Food and Drug Administration's list of pervasive weeds. However, cooks in Greece, China, and Mexico have valued the culinary attributes of this fleshy-leaved herb for many years. The purplish-red or green ground creeping stems bear 1/4 to 1 1/4-inch long succulent leaves, resembling those of a small jade plant. Eat the slightly acidic leaves and stems of this herb raw; or add them to soups and sauces.
In a large bowl, whisk 3 tbsp. olive oil, 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice, 1 tbsp. finely chopped shallot, 1/4 tsp. cracked black pepper, and coarse salt. Rinse 1/2 pound cherry tomatoes and cut in half or quarters. Rinse 6 cups purslane sprigs and leaves and 4 cups of flat-leaf parsley leaves. When ready to serve, add tomatoes and greens to vinaigrette and toss to coat.
Peel and slice three cucumbers and place in a salad bowl. Add 1 cup of rinsed purslane leaves. In a blender, combine 1/2 cup plain or Greek yogurt, 1/2 tbsp. olive oil, 1 tsp. red wine or herbal vinegar, 1 tbsp. chopped mint, and 1/4 tsp. coarse black pepper. When ready to serve, blend the yogurt mixture until combined and pour over the cucumbers and purslane. Mix until well coated. As an alternative, omit the vinegar and mint and instead add 1/2 tsp. fresh peeled and minced ginger and 1 peeled and minced clove of garlic.
Gently mix 6 medium cooked and sliced potatoes, 2 cups chopped purslane, 4 sliced scallions, 1 sliced celery stalk, and 1 cup of mayonnaise. Refrigerate until cold.
In a food processor, chop 4 cups of tomatillos. Transfer to a pot and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes. Remove tomatillos from heat and cool. When cool, add 2 cups rinsed, coarsely chopped purslane leaves; 4 to 5 roasted green chilies, peeled and seeded; 3 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled; 1/4 cup minced cilantro; and salt to taste. Mix well and serve with tortilla chips.
Pasta with Cherry Tomatoes
This recipe needs to be made 24 hours in advance to allow the flavors to develop. In a blender, combine 1/2 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup herbal vinegar, 1 clove peeled garlic, 2 tbsp. Dijon mustard, 1 tbsp. honey, 2/3 cup of chopped parsley, and a pinch of salt. Blend until well mixed. Place 6 cups of cooked pasta, 3 cups rinsed purslane leaves, 2 cups cherry tomatoes cut in half or quarters, and 1/2 cup minced green onion in a large bowl. Add dressing, mix well, cover, and refrigerate.
Rinse one quart of purslane stems and leaves. Cut the stems and leaves into 1-inch pieces and place in clean jars. Divide 3 cloves of sliced garlic and 10 peppercorns among the jars. Fill the jars with apple cider vinegar, put on the lids, and refrigerate for a minimum of two weeks before using.
Crunchy purslane leaves and stems can be used as a replacement for lettuce or pickles in sandwiches.
Thoroughly rinse purslane to remove any pesticide residue. (Res 4 ) Be cautious of neighboring spurge when picking wild purslane. Spurge is a poisonous, creeping plant that often grows near wild purslane. Spurge stems are wiry and emit a white, milky sap when broken. (Res 4)
Purslane seeds are available for home gardens. Use purslane as soon as possible after picking. If necessary, purslane can be rinsed and placed in a damp paper towel inside a plastic bag and stored in the refrigerator vegetable bin. (Res 3)