Eat Your Weedies 2

It has been a very dry summer in Central New England. Most cities and towns have a mandatory watering ban, which means the Food It Yourself garden has been a bit parched and less productive than we hoped for, at least in terms of the plants we planted. As nature abhors a vacuum, however, we have a plethora of drought-tolerant weeds. Specifically, we have a bumper crop of purslane.

University of Illinois Agricultural Extension has a great write up on Portulaca oleracea.  This is an amazing little weed! If your interest is piqued, I recommend reading these identification tips from The Foraged Foodie. Note carefully the discussion of the look-a-like plant called spurge. If you have any doubt regarding which plant you have found err on the side of caution and do not eat it. Furthermore (YES I’m going to say it again…) only eat weeds or other wild-grown plants from areas you know are free from chemical and biological contamination. Do not trespass on public or private land, and respect the other flora and fauna in the area.

I was very happy to see that there is no shortage on the internet of recipes using purslane. Since it has been not only very dry, but also very hot, I have very little inclination towards elaborate food preparation. Thankfully, simple presentations suit purslane well. I have tried two different preparations so far, one raw and one cooked.

Step one: wash your harvest. Did I really have to tell you that?

Step one: wash your harvest. Did I really have to tell you that?

This is a super-simple purslane salad. Purslane and perfectly ripe tomato drizzled with Italian vinaigrette. The acidity of the tomato enhances the purslane.

This is a super-simple purslane salad. Purslane and perfectly ripe tomato drizzled with Italian vinaigrette. The acidity of the tomato enhances the purslane.

Next, a quick stir-fry with a little slivered garlic and olive oil. Like most greens, the purslane just needs time to wilt. It took only a few minutes.

Next, a quick stir-fry with a little slivered garlic and olive oil. Like most greens, the purslane just needs time to wilt. It took only a few minutes.

Here is the result- seasoned with salt and pepper, topped with an egg, and enjoyed as a quick weekend lunch..

Here is the result- seasoned with salt and pepper, topped with an egg, and enjoyed as a quick weekend lunch..

I like this stuff! I harvested in the evening and the flavor was quite mild.  Evidently the tart and salty flavors are enhanced if you harvest in the morning. The stems especially have a sort of slippery/slimy texture when chewed.  I’m okay with that.  If such textures do not sit well with you try eating just the leaves.  I look forward to trying more ways to cook purslane.  Here are some ideas I am mulling over-

The Daily Meal has a collection of recipes to explore.

Texas A&M AggieLife Extension has this collection of recipes for purslane and other wild greens. Check out the nutrition facts at the bottom of the page!

Food and Wine has this unusual potato salad recipe that uses purslane.

I am very glad I tried purslane. Even if you do not garden you may be able to safely gather some near you, and I encourage you to give it a try!  You literally have nothing to lose. The greens are free, and if they are in your garden you will be weeding and harvesting at the same time. Purslane may just have saved my DIYet for the summer. What wild things are you eating this season? Share in the comments!

Advertisements