Georgia Kalamidas’ Purslane Salad (Another weed made useful!)

12 Aug

We were a bit bemused to find this thick-leaved rubbery-stemmed plant called purslane (Portulaca oleracea) in our pick-up and completely unsure of how to use it. It seemed to be the exception to the CSA rule of thumb: “When in doubt, saute in garlic and oil.” What to do?

Purslane is a succulent. those fat leaves hold water during drought.

Purslane is a succulent. those fat leaves hold water during drought.

Fortunately, our Restoration Farm grower Caroline Fanning provided a recipe from someone I think is another another member, Georgia Kalamidas (duly credited here) and the Internet provided more info on what this thing is. Apparently, some folks think it is a beautiful edible ornamental. Others think it is a weedy, resilient pain the gardener’s ass.

University of Illinois Extenson educator, Sandra Mason in a very funny and informative piece called “Purslane: Weed it or Eat it?”  discusses the relative merits of purslane in the garden. For example: “Purslane is an annual reproducing from seeds and from stem pieces. Seeds of purslane have been known to stay viable for 40 years in the soil. You may find that fact either depressing or exciting.”

Use it or lose it. One day after pick-up this needed using

Use it or lose it. One day after pick-up this needed using

The edible nature of this useful weed is another story. In young plants you can use the stem. My pick-up partners, Lori and John, and I tasted the stems and were not impressed. So we removed the leaves (it takes a while, so factor in time for that), rinsed thoroughly (purslane generally grows close to the ground) and followed Georgia’s recipe. The purslane is a bit like watercress without the nuttiness, and a bit like parsley but milder. In fact, you could substitute either in this salad, which was absolutely refreshing and delicious, with a lot of brightness and crunch. And by the way, you can apparently saute it in garlic (the rule stands!), and also in soups, but don’t cook it too long or it will become mucilaginous (slimy, like okra). Also, next time I might substitute oregano for the mint and add feta. Click for basic recipe!

The salad was terrific!

The salad was terrific!

Georgia Kalamidas’ Purslane Salad

1 Cup purslane leaves, chopped

1-2 Cups tomatoes, cubed

1-2 Cups cucumber, cubed

¼ Cup white onion, diced

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 Tbsp white vinegar

1 Tsp dried mint (or two fresh) Don’t skip this!

Salt and pepper

Toss and let sit ½ hour


11 Responses to “Georgia Kalamidas’ Purslane Salad (Another weed made useful!)”

  1. kathryningrid August 19, 2014 at 4:51 pm #

    Yum! What a great recipe, and a dandy way to make use of something that grows, ahem, like a weed. Although I’ve actually tried *cultivating* the stuff and can’t get it going! Hmmm. Experiment not yet finished, now that I have this recipe in hand. 🙂

    • Natalia at Hot, Cheap & Easy August 19, 2014 at 6:05 pm #

      You probably need to ignore it like the weed it is…then next thing you know it will have invaded your tomato beds…

  2. Mad Dog August 12, 2014 at 1:17 pm #

    It’s not something I’ve noticed before, but it does grow here (apparently) so I’ll have to look for it 😉

    • Natalia at Hot, Cheap & Easy August 13, 2014 at 3:20 pm #

      I always thought of it as a British-y herb, but apparently I am wrong!!!!

      • Mad Dog August 13, 2014 at 4:11 pm #

        It’s in my book of herbs and I believe it was very popular in Tudor times, but I don’t think I’ve eaten it 🙂

  3. v8mile August 12, 2014 at 8:18 am #

    I’ve read about this in books, but haven’t had the chance to try it. Now I’m curious, recipe looks great!

  4. lulu August 12, 2014 at 8:00 am #

    You’ve introduced a new ingredient for sure. I like the combination even if I don’t kno what purslane is!

    • Natalia at Hot, Cheap & Easy August 12, 2014 at 8:03 am #

      I know what you mean…I’d heard of it, but had never seen it before. Unless they told me at the CSA, I wouldn’t have known…

  5. Bluejellybeans August 12, 2014 at 7:47 am #

    ¡Una receta estupenda! 🙂

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