Tag Archive for purslane

For the Love of Purslane

When my neighbor went to Turkey a few years ago, she was fortunate to spend time with a Turkish family, and taste true Turkish cuisine prepared at home. She also had a grand time at the Istanbul Bazaar and came back with amazingly fragrant spices, some of which she gifted me. She really enjoyed many vegetable dishes and was particularly intrigued by a vegetable she never had before… and had I ever heard of it? such a funny name:  purslane?

Basil & purslane both like hot summer weather

Purslane & basil both like hot summer weather

I burst out laughing, and told her I’d bring her a big basket the following morning, wanted to harvest it when it was cool. Which I did. Fair is fair: a basket of “weeds” for a basket of spice.

Because, as you know, many Americans consider purslane (Portulaca oleracea) a weed. In fact, many don’t even know it’s edible. It’s a cousin of the ornamental  moss rose (Portulaca grandiflora), sometime also called purslane. Don’t confuse the two  when buying seeds (you are unlikely to find Portulaca oleracea plants for sale)

Yet – it is. It’s also nutritious, mild (vaguely lemony) & crunchy – and for me it grows when lettuce does not. In the garden, it’s an annual succulent. It self-sows (and how!) but does not germinates until it is quite warm. In poor soil, it can look “weedy” indeed. But in good garden soil, it becomes a handsome plant that hugs the ground. Pick often to delay flowering and to encourage more leaves.

Leaves, stalks, buds, flowers and seeds are all edible. But the younger, firmer, leaves are preferable – so pinch out shoots to harvest (and encourage branching at the same time).  I dislike the texture of the tiny seeds, so I swish my harvest in a large bowl of cold water to dislodge the seeds that sink to the bottom of the bowl.

A cultivated “improved” version of purslane exists. The pale-golden green leaves are fleshier than the ones growing wild in my garden, but also more fragile and the plant is not as robust. I prefer the unimproved version.

So how do you eat purslane? Read more

it’s summer, you eat … WHAT???!!!

Purslane: I call it a nutritious easy to grow crunchy little green (now officially renamed par moi a “super gourmet green” !). Add it to green salads, or – my favorite – to potato salad. Other people like it too: El - of course! (go to this post for a picture … if you need one) – and Chelsea whose post of Warm Potato & Purslane Salad inspired me to try purslane with potato salad. Nonetheless, he calls it a weed. He eats it, though – gingerly. Me? I am going to pickle it, having found a recipe in one of my French cookbooks.

radish-pods-004

Radish seed pods: I call them tasty little bits, great for salads and stir-fries. He just shrug them off and eats around them. But then he has no particular fondness for radishes, any of it (except the quick pickled ones). Make sure to pick only young and immature pods: they toughen as the seeds mature. There is actually a radish bred for its pods, with the evocative name of Rat’s Tail Radish or sometimes – less poetically – podding radish. I use my standard French breakfast style radish and let them go to seeds. Flowers are pretty, attract pollinators and beneficial insects … and are edible too.

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We both agree though that green coriander seed is a short live treasure. Short lived in the garden, as you need to pick the young green immature seeds before they start to mature, and once picked must eat them within a few hours, before they start to dry. The taste is something between cilantro and coriander – which is no surprise since it is both – but without the toughness of the mature coriander shell. The younger the seed (smaller and more vibrant green, with no tinge of yellow), the brighter the taste. I use them in rillettes (just cooked for a few minutes), add to sautéed pork chops or chicken, salsa etc – again adding them just for the last couple of minutes of cooking. I like them so much that I am collecting some and freezing them for future use. The ones I don’t harvest green will become coriander: some will end up in the pantry, others will reseed themselves for a fall crop.