Tomato, Cucumber, Purslane Salad

For the last few years my garden weeding routine has included the pulling up of a thick-stemmed ground cover plant with little yellow flowers that takes over the pathways around the garden beds. It’s pretty actually, but to the gardening books it’s considered a weed. What a lot of these books don’t tell you is that purslane, the “weed” in question, is being sold at farmers markets to chefs for $7 a pound. Not only is it edible, something like crunchy, not-as-spicy watercress, but it is packed with vitamins, minerals, and even Omega 3. In Mexico it is cultivated, between rows of corn in cornfields. Called “verdolaga” in Spanish, it is used in many dishes, in salads, or cooked with braised pork.

So, this year I decided to just let it grow, and my garden stepping stones are now surrounded by a blanket of green purslane, which so loves the room to spread it has happily crowded out the crab grass. I can make a salad in my hands with it, some Thai basil and Sun Gold tomatoes. The following purslane salad recipe comes from my Mexican friend Arturo Vargas, who chopped up the leaves (discarded the thick stems) and tossed them in with some cucumber, tomato, jalapeño, lemon juice, and salt. We at the salad for lunch alongside some quesadillas. Cool, crispy, and refreshing.

purslane.jpg

If you too are incorporating purslane into your cooking, please let us know in the comments how you are using it.

Tomato, Cucumber, Purslane Salad Recipe

Especially good served with grilled seafood.

Ingredients

  • 1 large cucumber, peeled, quartered lengthwise, seeds removed and discarded, then chopped
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • 1 bunch purslane, thick stems removed, leaves chopped, resulting in about 1/2 cup chopped purslane
  • 1 minced seeded jalapeno chile pepper
  • 2-3 Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • Salt to taste

Method

Combine all ingredients in a serving bowl. Salt to taste.

Links:
Chopped Middle Eastern Salad with Purslane from Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen
Purslane salad with yogurt from Almost Turkish
Chickpea salad with purslane and arugula from Kitchenography
Verdolaga from World Crops
Purslane, Tomato, Tomatillo Soup from Kitchenography
Pickled Purslane from 18th Century Cuisine

33 Comments

  1. Rene

    I was just visiting the states, and was really hankering for some good Mexican food, which is hard to come by here in Sweden. So my brother’s girlfriend, who hails from Mexico, made braised pork and verdolaga. She didn’t know the english word for it, but it was so delicious. it reminded me a little of spinach, but with a more velvety texture. Thanks! Now I can pass on the english translation.

  2. Caroline C

    A local restaurant in my area was cited by the city for allowing ‘noxious’ weeds to grow over the limit the city allowed. The restaurant’s owner responded that he did not plant the purslane, but took advantage of its growth and harvested it for use in dishes at his restaurant.

    Fortunately, clearer heads prevailed and the case was dismissed by a hearing officer!

    http://slimsrestaurant.com/ contains the hearing officers decision.

  3. Bob Walasek

    I’ve been harvesting the purslane from my garden for a couple of years now – we usually just mix it with our salad greens. I also like putting it on a sandwich. I usually use the whole stalk, even the large ones – they are not tough and have a nice crunch and flavor!

  4. Jennifer Hess

    I have yet to try it, but there’s a recipe in the current issue of Food and Wine for a chilled zucchini soup with purslane. I’ve spotted purslane at our local farmers’ market on occasion, so the next time it appears I plan to pick some up. I’ll be sure to get enough to make this lovely salad, too.

  5. Kalyn

    I have an abundance of purslane this year (due to garden neglect!) and just picked a bunch for a salad a few days ago. I like the sound of this. Purslane seems like it would go with a lot of different flavors, but I think lemon especially suits it.

  6. Eli

    This salad looks great. Seems like I’ve been seeing purslane a lot this summer; looks like it’s getting 15 min of fame. I made a purslane and potato salad a month or so ago using boiled potatoes, raw purslane, capers, lemon juice and olive oil. It turned out really well, if I do say so myself. Very light and fresh.

    I do have to admit that I’m one of those people paying farmers market prices for purslane, but since I don’t have a yard or a garden to grow my own, I think it’s well worth it.

  7. Angie

    This looks great, I usually make this salad with fresh dill, and vinegar. Is this a plant that grows wild in California? Is there a link you know of that describes this plants zone requirements, or where I can order a plant. Thanks

    No idea where you can order. It is considered a weed and it grows like one all over California and much of the US. It does die off at the end of summer. ~Elise

  8. Harriet Burke

    Last week at Lowe’s Gardening center,I purchased two pots of Purslane, one with yellow flowers and one with purple. They are hanging in baskets on my back deck. I didn’t know they were edible….they’re too pretty. Thanks for the information.

  9. Sue

    I’ve been weeding it and throwing it to the chickens. They love it, but now they will have to share because I intend to try this salad. Sounds yummy.

  10. Alexis

    All I can say is WOW… I have an (admitedly) neglected bed that I’ve spend all summer (at least I think this is a summer, not quite sure what we’ve had for the past 2 months here int he north east) pulling purslane out by the armload! Edible hunh? Who’da thunk it?… I suppose next you’ll be telling me we can eat skunk cabbage too! LOL … have heard it’s edible early in the season

  11. Karen

    Hi Elise – I took your advice about backyard foraging and went straight out and made a purslane salad. My neighbors are looking at me funny…I posted my recipe recently: http://tinyurl.com/m37otg

    Hi Karen, it’s gorgeous! Isn’t backyard foraging fun? ~Elise

  12. April in Denver

    I’ve seen a lot of purslane this summer too. IN MY GARDEN. I’ve been pulling it up and throwing it out. It’s everywhere, but not as bad as bindweed. Well, lesson learned. Next we learn that bindweed is healthy :))

  13. carrie

    Saw it for the first time in the farmer’s market a few weeks ago. The woman who sells it also sells some really tough, bitter greans that I can’t remember the name of, but that she says are popular in Greece and Mexico.

  14. Linda In Washington State

    Hi Elise,

    According to WSU in Spokehane, Purslane grows here but I haven’t found it in my garden. Purslane is good for you ,high in vitamins A C & E.
    FYI interesting fact about Purslane I read….Seeds of the plant can remain viable for many years, up to 40 years if buried. So try to remove the plant before it starts producing seed. Seeds ripen 14 to 16 days after the blossoms open, even if the plant has been pulled.
    And Alexis lol skunk cabbage well the name fits the plant eewwwwww wheee and those ugly white-yellowish splindels. I can’t imagine anything that would taste good cooked with skunk cabbage.

  15. Wandering Chopsticks

    I saw purslane recently at my farmers’ market and purchased to try something new. The farmers said to treat it like spinach so that’s what I did. I chopped it up into 2 to 3 inch sections and lightly sauteed it with olive oil. I loved the slightly lemony taste.

  16. Emily

    I had the BEST purslane at “The Cooks House” in Traverse City, MI this past weekend. If you are ever in the area- you must check it out. You wont be disappointed. check them out at http://www.thecookshouse.typepad.com/ ENJOY. going to try and make your Tomato Pie on this rainy summer day :)

  17. Julie L. Houk

    I love finding purslane in my un-tended gardens! It’s amazing how this plant will grow anywhere you forget to weed. We make a beautiful salad with it. Just mix together the purslane, some sliced green or sweet red onion, and salt, extra-virgin olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. Very delicious!

  18. Carolyn

    I’m also in Sacramento and have loads of purslane growing wild in our relatively untended back yard. (Hurray for lazy gardeners!) For the last few years I’ve made soft tacos from Mi Abuelita corn tortillas, sauteed purslane w/ garlic and deeply roasted potatoes. Equally delicious with roasted tomatillo salsa or Italian-style salsa verde.

    I’ve long wondered about whether the slightly slippery texture would be good cooked w/ tomatoes, a la Southern-style okra and tomato dishes.

  19. Peter

    Thanks for the link, Elise. Purslane never used to grow up here…until the city banned spraying lawns and fields with pesticides.

    Wild greens have popped up, purslane, one year I had chicory. We also have weeds but I like when I can hit the yard and find something edible to eat.

  20. burcu

    In the southeastern part of Turkey where purslane salads are very common, they use pomegranate syrup (molasses) to season this kind of salad with tomatoes and cucumbers. Delicious!

  21. Ric

    In New Mexico we have a dish where you first blanch the tender leaves and small stems. Then saute some garlic and onion in a little bacon grease (I guess you could use butter or canola oil), add the cut up verdolagas, some red chile flakes (I use red chile sauce) and pinto beans. Serve with flour tortillas.

  22. Carolyn

    I’m having a hard time distinguishing purslane from prostate spurge. Any tips on how to tell the difference?

    I have them both growing in the garden. The purslane stems are thicker as are the leaves. They’re more succulent-like. The spurge tends to have thin red stems and lighter color leaves, a little more with a cast of grey. ~Elise

  23. Laura

    I actually just came across this at my local farmer’s market and decided to give it a try (only $1/pound, even in NYC!). The seller told me that it had kind of a citrus-y flavor, so I made a salad with the verdolaga, carrots, tomatoes, celery, and fresh corn, then tossed together a quick dressing with lemon juice, olive oil, and basil. It was great! The only thing I didn’t like was how long it took me to (roughly) destem all the leaves… too much work to do on a regular basis.

  24. Kay

    just wanted to let you know as I was trying to make certain of the identification of purslane….the spurge will have a milky substance in the stem, purslane will not.

  25. pelin

    another way we make purslane in Turkey is with yogurt: take a few cloves of garlic, grind them in a mortar or chop them finely, mix with thick yogurt and salt. add purslane leaves. you can add some olive oil if you’d like, but if you use full-fat yogurt it’s not even necessary.

  26. Beth

    I make a purslane salad similar to this except I also add mild sliced onions and make a dressing of lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, and a small bit of all natural sweetener to cut the tartness of the lemon juice. My family gobbles it up!

  27. Gayle P.

    I just harvested a BASKETFUL of these wonderful weeds today. Lunch was sauteed zucchini and purslane served over rice with bacon crumbled over top. It was delicious!

  28. RH

    Unbelievable! I’ve been yanking this weed out of my beds for years here in western Pennsylvania. I’ve found them very annoying, but now I can appreciate what I have. Can’t wait to try it!

    Yep. From what I understand they are charging $7 a pound for it at some farmers markets. ~Elise

  29. Angelika Levien

    I have been eating this wonderful garden weed for years. It is not only good in salads but also steamed and dressed with a little olive oil and lemon juice. It doesn’t cook down like spinach. I like it so much that I have even frozen it.

  30. Kathy

    Purslane has been used by the Portugese to make a wonderful soup for years. I guard the purslane growing in our garden fiercely waiting for it to mature so that I can make this wonderful soup which is such a simple recipe. What you need is: purslane, lots of garlic, olive oil, onions, potatoes (two – three), eggs, firm unripened cheese. Saute the sliced garlic, chopped onions, diced potatoes in olive oil. Add the cleaned purslane (I use the smaller stems and the leaves without chopping them). Add enough water to cover the purslane by at least three inches. Salt to tase. Bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are cooked. You can then poach eggs in this soup and also poach some soft cheese (for example Portugese fresh cheese or Spanish pressed cheese). Ladle all of this over a few slices of stale firm bread such as Italian chiabata. Enjoy

    TIP if you don’t have purslane you can also make this soup with romain lettuce. Not quite the same but also delicious and good for you.

    Thank you for the suggestion, Kathy! Sounds a lot like watercress soup, which I love. ~Elise

  31. Sean T Traynor

    I discovered Purslane Salad on the menu at Pinar Otel, Alanya, Turkey. So taken I asked the hotel operator about it. Committed to healthy eating and local produce, she told me all about it and it’s qualities. I googled it when I got home, now all I need to do is it source it here in County Antrim, and I can see it becoming part of my staple diet. Delicious!

I apologize for the inconvenience, but comments are closed. You can share your thoughts on our Facebook page ~ Elise.