Purslane, Portulaca Oleracea, is an edible succulent plant that spreads vigorously. The leaves are crunchy with a tangy lemon-peppery flavour. It pops up in gardens here from December (early Summer) through to Autumn. It is prolific in my garden, so much so that I can pull the whole plants out when young, nip off the root and use the stem and leaves. For larger plants, stems are picked and leaves removed. You should always wash it really well as it is such a ground-hugging plant.
Pick them early in the day for best flavours. If I need to pick them later in the day, I will cover them in water for an hour or so until they perk up and lift their heads. Don’t soak any longer, they turn to mush (being a succulent).
In some parts of the world you can buy Purslane in green groceries but in Australia that is not the case. So you can forage alongside footpaths and in parks and green areas, but always be careful that it has not been sprayed. The best way is to purchase some seed, or gather it from flowering foraged plants, and grow in your own garden. Once you have planted it in your garden you will always have it. It grows best in warm to hot, dry climates.
It is used around the world, from Greece to Mexico, South Africa, India and Turkey. It is a nutritional medicine cabinet in a plant with remarkable amounts of minerals, vitamins, antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids. It is mainly used raw but is also cooked in some places, such as India.
We’ve put together some of our favourite salads using Purslane to inspire you. Be sure to let us know how you use it and which salads are your favourite. Don’t forget that you can use Purslane to replace other sour or lemony ingredients such as sorrel in salads and other dishes.
But don’t forget to use it in other ways too. Put it in your smoothies and home made juices. Add to your herbal teas, toss with pasta, add to sandwiches and wraps, use as a garnish for any dish, add to salsas and toss into Pudla mixes.
You can make tea with the leaves. It is said to help ease headaches, bring down a fever, soothe sore throats, and combat inflammation.
Growing Purslane in Our Garden
Once you’ve purslane in your garden, you’ll never be without. In the first year I had 1 patch of purslane and naively thought I would keep that patch for purslane year on year. In the second year, purslane popped up in so many places in the garden. I tried to keep to my one patch and weed the rest. In the third year I developed an easier and better strategy.
Each morning I take a bowl and pick the stems from larger plants and pull up whole tiny plants. I do this until I have enough for a salad or for the dish I am preparing. This keeps the purslane under control and what I pick for the salad is young and fresh.
The purslane is then soaked in water for a short time until I am ready to use it. At that time, I drain it, rinse again, and drain again. I strip leaves from the larger stems and nip the hairy root from the tiny plants. The leaves are rinsed once more if they appear to need it, then drained, and they are ready for use.
To store purslane, right after picking, pop it in a plastic bag and put it straight in to the refrigerator or a cooler bag. It will keep fresh in the refrigerator for a week. Don’t wash it until just before you are ready to eat.
Purslane in Salads
Purslane pairs well with many salad ingredients. Try:
- capers, olives
- green mango,
- pomegranate, pomegranate molasses
- snow peas
- sweetcorn, even grilled sweetcorn
- stone fruits such as cherries, peaches, nectarines, and plums,
- orange and other citrus including zests and juice in dressings
- marjoram, oregano
- parsley, basil, coriander leaves and other soft herbs
- chives, spring onions (scallions),
- za’atar, sumac
- white pepper
- lemon juice, vinegar, rice vinegar
- many oils including walnut, hazelnut oil, olive oil, sesame oil
- seeds and nuts (especially almonds, walnuts and pistachios)
- cream, yoghurt, buttermilk
- feta and similar soft cheeses,
- burrata, buffalo mozzarella, bocconcini and other such cheeses,
- goa’ts cheese
- parmesan and similar hard cheeses
- toasted pita bread
- lentils and legumes such as Mung beans, toor dal, black beans, and chickpeas
- black barley, quinoa, couscous, Israeli couscous
- orzo pasta in a salad.
Purslane Salad Inspiration
The leaves, stems, flowers and seeds are all edible.
Purslane Salad with Cream Dressing
Mix Purslane leaves and tender stems that have been thoroughly washed with halved cherry tomatoes and sliced cucumber. Make a dressing from cream, lemon juice or vinegar and salt and pepper. Thin the dressing with a little water or milk if the cream is too thick. Pour over the salad and mix. Serve.
Actually, just mixing them with cream and salt and pepper is very good too.
Purslane Salad with Radishes, Feta, Olives and Pickled Watermelon Rind.
Prepare the Purslane by washing thoroughly and removing leaves from the thicker stems. Prepare a vinaigrette from olive oil, garlic, vinegar or lemon juice (we used our orange vinegar) and sea salt and pepper. Mix the leaves and radishes with the dressing and place on a serving dish. Top with cubes of feta, strips of pickled watermelon rind (optional), olives and rings of red or white onion. Incredibly delicious.
Purslane and Orange Salad with Feta and Pistachios
Mix washed and picked purslane leaves and tender stems with rounds of peeled orange, onion rings, chopped parsley, basil leaves, feta and pistachio slivers. Dress with a lemon juice and olive oil dressing. Nut oils can be used in place of olive oil. You can sprinkle the salad with cumin seeds, poppy seeds or kalonji seeds if desired. I have also added optional red barberries – pomegranate kernels could be used, but the barberries are particularly nice with purslane.
Purslane Salad with Peaches, Walnuts and Flowers
This really was a Kitchen Bench salad – it came together from picking Purslane, herbs, edible flowers and leaves from the garden and putting it together with orange zest (also from the garden), lemon juice, walnuts, peaches, a little oil. You could drizzle a yoghurt dressing over if desired. Some finely grated carrot would be gorgeous in the salad too. Even some feta added would be delightful.
Quinoa and Purslane Salad with Radish and Kalonji
Quinoa is mixed with sliced radish and purslane and dressed with olive oil and orange juice. It is sprinkled with kalonji. Spring onions, sliced, are great in this salad too.
Mix Purslane with a little sesame oil, rice vinegar, sesame salt and strips of toasted nori or other seaweed product. You can make your own sesame salt by toasting sesame seeds (do not burn) and grinding with sea salt. It smells delicious!
Potato Salad with Capers and Purslane
Steam small potatoes, or cut larger potatoes into small pieces. While still warm, dress with extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, whole grain mustard (optional) and purslane leaves. Add some capers too.
Purslane with Japanese Flavours
Mix the purslane with rice vinegar, sesame oil, sesame salt and strips of nori or other seaweed. Serve with sliced radishes.
Black Barley and Purslane
Black Barley with its inky taste makes beautiful salads too, like this one I made from pantry and garden ingredients during COVID-19 (2020). Black Barley mixed with some home made peach chutney, soft oven dried tomatoes, purslane from the garden, and garden herbs. A little olive oil and the tiniest bit of something acid (taste first as purslane is a little sour) – lemon or lime, preserved lemon, or rice vinegar. You might not have peach chutney ;), but you can substitute with something sweet-tart like barberries or dried cranberries, or use sweet – raisins for example – with a little more acid in the dressing.
Some creamy goat’s cheese would go well in this too!
- Purslane, avocado, walnuts, oregano
- Purslane, peaches, yoghurt based dressing
- Purslane, orange, basil, parsley, nuts, feta
- Purslane, pomelo, coriander leaves, green chilli, lime juice, red onion, peanuts, grated coconut, half tspn sugar, black pepper, sea salt