I planted Horseherb in my front yard about six weeks ago. It's a lush, native groundcover that the pollinators adore, and I was looking forward to seeing it spread and take hold. Instead, I walked out to my front yard and discovered a think, succulent crop of purslane. For those who aren't familiar with purslane, it's a very common weed through out most of the United States. So, purslane wasn't exactly what I wanted to see in my front yard, but I decided to go with what Mother Nature had provided me. Some might say, let’s make lemonade out of lemons... how about, let’s make a salad out of purslane! Let’s embrace what we have and go ahead and make dinner.
We're definitely not telling you to go eat every weed that pops up in your front yard, but get to know the native plants in your area because some of them are definitely edible! When you think about it, a weed really is a human concept -- they're just plants that are growing somewhere we don't want. That doesn't make them any less interesting or delicious!
The stems, leaves, flowers, and seeds of purslane are all edible. You can eat it raw in a salad, cooked like you would spinach, or add it to soups or stews. I often see it in my local grocery store near the parsley and other green, leafy vegetables. The slightly tart taste is similar to arugula, and it is high in the healthy Omega-3 fatty acids and also beta carotene.
Our friends at Comeback Creek Farm even grow purslane to sell to restaurants! And to think many of us in North Texas spends hours throughout the year trying to pull this weed up.
I know you are now ready to run outside and check out your “weed” situation and see how you can prepare this delicious plant in your dinner tonight. Here's a simple recipe I created. If you notice some very fine, black grit on the chopping board, when you are cleaning and trimming the purslane, don’t worry. These are only the seeds from the purslane and they too are edible.
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium onion, minced
1 pound purslane, stems thicker than 1/8 inch discarded
1 large tomato, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over moderate heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add purslane and tomato and cook, tossing with tongs, until just wilted, 3 to 4 minutes. Do not overcook the purslane; you want it to still be a bit crunchy. Season with salt and pepper and crumble desired amount of Feta cheese on top.