Purslane Salad

My vegetable garden got a late start with the cold wet spring. But suddenly it exploded into a weed bed. In mid-June, we did manage to put in a few tomato plants, some shiso, basil, and marigolds. I see some sweet husk tomatoes (sometimes called ground cherries) have volunteered: they look like tomatillos but much smaller and sweet. Thirty years ago I grew them but we moved and unfortunately I didn’t save any of the seeds. I can’t wait until they get ripe!

The plant that is surrounding the tomatoes and shiso is a “weed” called purslane. I’d not seen it in such profusion away from a sidewalk or parking lot before. It’s a pretty plant, and after a bit of research I decided to give it a culinary treatment. Nice! First was this salad.

Purslane Cucumber Salad

adapted from: Culinary Musings
serves 4
  • 1 cup cucumber, halved lengthwise and sliced.
  • 2/3 cup halved cherry tomatoes
  • ½ cup purslane leaves
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds
  • 2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons mirin
  • salt to taste

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl, cover, and chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Members of the Portulaca genus are hardy or half hardy annuals with succulent leaves. They are easily grown even in poor soil. Purslane is considered a weed in the United States, but it is eaten throughout much of Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Mexico.The stems, leaves, flower buds, and seeds are edible. The leaves have a tangy, vaguely salty flavor and can be added to salads, stir-fried, cooked like spinach, or added to stews and soups. Purlane is rich in vitamins A, B, and C as well as in omega 3 fatty acids.

The cultivated varieties are known as Sun Plant, Rose Moss and Wax Pink. They bloom from summer though autumn with yellow, pink, red, and white cup-shaped flowers.

Purslane grows from seeds (often self-sowing) and can be propagated from stem cuttings.

Don’t pick purslane from beside roads or parking lots, or in fields which have been sprayed. Heavy metals and pesticides are not good to eat!

There is a spurge which resembles the low-growing purslane, and which grows in similar places: be sure the leaves you harvest are not from this plant. They can irritate your skin, especially mucus membranes of your eyes, nose and mouth. If the leaves leak a milky sap, then do not eat them!

Summarized from:
Culinary Musings, Plant Biology.com, Dave’s Garden, and Wikipedia


8 thoughts on “Purslane Salad

  1. Purslane is a lovely plant. We have it in some of the farmers markets here in spring / early summer and where it’s sold by it’s Mexican name, verdolagas. I’ve had it in salsas, breakfast burritos, salads, etc. Very tasty!

    • I’ve never seen it for sale here, not even in famers’ markets.

      But as a weed, it has certainly taken over my garden: it seems not to be bothering the shiso and tomato plants—in fact it seems to help keep the beds shaded so they don’t dry out so much in this very high heat we are experiencing now.

  2. It sounds as though tomatoes, shiso and purslane are good companion plants. I had some purslane volunteer in the vege patch last year too and come to think of it it was mainly in the tomato bed.

  3. Your salad looks so crisp and fresh, Tess. Bet it was delicious. I feel a bit greens hungry. Symptom of midwinter I think. I’m vicariously enjoying your summer exploits though (-:

    • Marigolds are supposed to be good with tomatoes. Back when I was a serious gardener I’d save the seeds of the single form of the red marigolds (I don’t like the big bushy yellow ones so much), and managed to get a fairly reliable display of nice red (dark orange) simple flowers.

      Don’t know if purlane does much for tomatoes except to keep the roots cool. It does seem to be shading out other weeds.

      This heat is making me wish for just a touch of winter. It was over 100°F (38°C) and humid here. Not what we are used to!

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