We’re taking a cruise or running errands. We pass a park, forest preserve, or alley, and Mom suddenly demands that we pull over. Or if she’s driving, she kindly announces we need to stop for a minute. She gets out the car, verifies her suspicion, and starts carefully picking through the weeds. She returns to the car gently handling a healthy bunch of the prized greens, lightly covered in dirt, and is ecstatic knowing she is going to enjoy a spicy salad made up of the greens most people pass off as an inedible weed-purslane!
The story above is one my siblings and I have experienced too often. And I’m sure anyone with a parent or grandparent who is an immigrant, not able to find the fruits, vegetables, or herbs they had in their home country, experienced the same. (If your mom or grandmother ever made you pull over to pick fresh grape leaves on the side of a road, you know exactly what I’m talking about.) When I was younger, I really did not get it. Were these greens really worth the trouble? For my mom, they were. They were a memory, a connection to something she ate growing up with her family. Something so simple, healthy, and pretty damn delicious!
Purslane, arjayla or baqle in Arabic, is a wild green consumed in many countries for its variety of health benefits, although the FDA still classifies is as a weed. According to researchers at UT San Antonio, purslane has the highest amount of omega-3s of any edible plant, which is an essential fatty acid that helps maintain heart health, cholesterol, regulates blood pressure, and supports brain health. Purslane is low in calories and fat and high in vitamins and minerals like vitamin A, C, E, iron, magnesium, calcium, and potassium. Though it’s still Mom’s preference to pick wild purslane, it is becoming more readily available at ethnic markets.
Growing up, my tastebuds were not as fond of purslane as I think my mother wished. I did not appreciate the earthy and slightly bitter nature of the wild green. In the past few years, and especially this summer, I’ve found myself craving a spicy purslane salad made up of whatever beautiful vegetables and herbs we’ve gathered from the garden. So when Mom and I went to go find some purslane at a nearby park and were successful, I knew a post on this was necessary! We balance the flavor profile of the purslane with spicy chiles and sweet heirloom tomatoes. I hope you’ll try to find and incorporate this green into your diet and enjoy this post!
Wild Purslane Salad
Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: None Yields: 4-6 servings
- 1 cup of purslane, washed and patted dry
- 2-4 tomatoes, small-medium sized
- 1-2 chiles, jalapeño or serrano
- 1/2 cup of fresh mint
- Juice of half a lemon or 1 lime
- 3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper
Instructions: Roughly chop the purslane, tomatoes, and mint. Finely chop the chiles. Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and dress with the lemon/lime juice and olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Enjoy immediately while all the ingredients are still crisp and fresh!
Here’s how it came together:
Here’s some photos of when I made this salad a few days before…
Try this salad alongside rice or some warm pita. Or just devour all its deliciousness and health benefits on its own! You can also lightly sauté purslane with some garlic, olive oil, and tomatoes, for a warm preparation. There is something so tasty about eating dishes that are a combination of just a few seasonal, fresh ingredients-quality over quantity most definitely. Enjoy!