Come late August, I have usually thrown in the towel on my garden because the heat and humidity of Pennsylvania is just too much for this Canadian girl and I’ve let the weeds win my constant battle with them. This year I have an additional excuse for the sorry state of affairs! A garden snake startled me in early spring and took up residence in my garden. I know, I know. They are beneficial. They consume a lot of bugs and vermin. But I threw in the trowel right then and there and decided that this would be the year I let the weeds grow with wild abandon alongside their little friend. However when a garden party looms in your near future, one must tend the garden and tame the beast.
I remember reading about its nutritious value and decided I would find my inner foraging spirit and harvest it to eat. With its plump, soft, succulent-like leaves, purslane is high in beneficial omega 3 fatty acids, low in calories like most leafy greens, and rich in dietary fiber, minerals, vitamins and anti oxidants. Dr. Strum natural skin care out of Germany uses it as a star ingredient in their line of products(WSJ Style Issue, September 2018). But I cannot tell a lie. I pulled the purslane up and was still hesitant to consume it. I am after all new to this foraging business. What if this was something bad for me? I photographed a patch with my favorite plant identifying app, PictureThis, and it confirmed the weed as being common purslane. (The app is a free download and is very easy to use. You take a phone picture through the app and it identifies the plant). Reassured, I took the purslane into the kitchen to come up with a recipe to eat it in. But truth be told, I was still dragging my feet, foraging whimp that I am!
I cut off the roots, washed and dried it as you would any lettuce. I made a simple lemon-mustard vinaigrette by mixing together 1/4 cup olive oil, the juice of a lemon, a finely diced clove of garlic, a half teaspoon of Dijon mustard, a pinch of sea salt and a grind of fresh pepper. I plucked mostly just the leaves from the purslane but kept some of the most tender stems near the tips. I tossed it in some of the vinaigrette then topped it with a few cherry tomatoe halves, some thinly sliced red onion and some chopped parsley. It was delicious! And I am still alive and well. My skin might even be glowing! The purslane holds up very well in salad form and has a bit of a peppery bite somewhat like arugula or sprouted micro greens.
To read more about the nutritional value of wild purslane, please visit this excellent site. Please note my garden is chemical free. I cannot make a safety recommendation of consuming purslane if you use pesticides or herbicides.
Sources: WSJ Style Magazine, September 2018; Nutrition-and-you.com