SO. A couple of days ago I was talking to my friend Nicole (yup -- the same Nicole that taught me about squash soup) and we get talking about edible weeds. So Nicole starts talking about purslane. I had heard about purslane, but didn't know what it looked like and had never tasted it, but when she started describing it, I knew EXACTLY what plant she was talking about.
You see, purslane is pretty distinct. It has paddle shaped leaves, a little shiny, succulent-like and a reddish stem. It grows anywhere (and everywhere) and is considered a weed. It is also considered a delicacy, garnering up to $7.00 a bunch at the farmer's market. Call me crazy, but I'll take the free stuff growing in my backyard to the 'gourmet' bunched option. Anybody with me?
So of course the danger in eating weeds is that you have to be certain you know what you are eating. I researched picture after picture, article after article on purslane until I was convinced I knew my plant was indeed the edible sort. After researching, I tested a leaf. Just one -- just me. Just in case. After 24 hours, no problems, so I ate a few more. Still no issues -- this plant is clearly edible and I've just scored some high priced purslane from my backyard - awesome!
WARNING!!! READ THIS:
Purslane has one evil twin called spurge. There are various types of spurge, but what you must really look out for is "milky sap". It looks like it sounds, thin white sap that oozes out of the stems when the plant is broken. This sap will irritate your skin (similarly to poison ivy) and will make you very sick - DON'T EAT IT! I personally don't think the two look very much alike, but if in doubt, watch out for the sap. Purslane has very clear sap that is more gel like (similar to aloe or other succulents).
ON to the cooking. While researching recipes for purslane, I came upon a lot of salads, soups and surprisingly -- potato salads. One of my favorite summer foods is a warm potato salad made from just a few simple, fresh ingredients. The chives are up and green already (HELLO early spring), so I decided to give it a go.
The recipe is simple. You boil chopped red and/or yellow potatoes. Allow them to cool while you create a simple mayo from scratch. Add finely chopped chives and purslane and you are good to go -- SPRING HAS ARRIVED!
If you are brave enough to pick a few weeds and eat them in a delicious potato salad, you'll want to check out the full recipe for Purslane and Chive Warm Potato Salad!