Although most often considered a weed seen growing in the cracks of footpaths and median strips, purslane is a very useful edible plant. Think of purslane as you would lettuce, it just looks different and it's a little crunchier. You can eat both the leaves and young stems. Try it in salads, stir fries or soups. Even Jamie Oliver uses it in a pesto.
Just the other day, I walked past a woman hurrying home with several bunches in her hands which she had freshly foraged nearby. And as I kept on looking, I found purslane growing just about everywhere!
Below are a few links and recipes to get you thinking. This peach and purslane salad is a simple but brilliant balance of the slight sourness of the purslane and sweetness of the peach and dressing.
Warning: Be extremely cautious where you forage for purslane. Council workers treat it like any other weed and will poison it without hesitation. Know your picking spot very well. Befriend neighbours who don't know what it is or seek out abandoned land and work sites or just grow your own. Once you've been successful growing it, like me, you'll be unlikely to ever get rid of it.
Peach, purslane and mint salad Serves 2
1 bunch of purslane, roughly chopped 1 handful mint leaves, roughly chopped 2 large ripe white peaches, sliced 1/2 cup toasted walnuts/almonds or cashews 1/4 cup crumbled feta or ricotta
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tsp of sugar
Salt and pepper to taste.
In a large salad or mixing bowl, combine purslane and peach slices. Set aside.
In a small bowl, mix the vinegar, salt, pepper and the sugar. Add olive oil to the vinegar mixture. Pour vinaigrette over the purslane and peaches. Add nuts and cheese.