What Is Purslane?


Purslane is a leafy succulent. It’s a versatile green sometimes called “poor man’s spinach.” Elizabeth Schneider describes it well in her book Vegetables from Amaranth to Zucchini: 

Perky purslane has oval, juicy-slippery, medium green or yellow-green leaves (more like pads) and a mild, fresh flavor brightened by a tart finish. Wild purslane (it grows naturally in most organic gardens, so “wild” seems an exaggeration) and cultivated purslane can be quite different… At its best (usually wild), purslane has a sorrel tang and a hint of tomato; mediocre purslane (usually cultivated), can be bland and slimy but still looks cute. 

I’m not sure if the purslane I got today was wild or cultivated (it was moderately cute), but I can tell you that: 1) it feels good between your fingers, and 2) it’s delicious tossed with a little tangelo juice, salt, pepper and olive oil, piled on top of sliced roasted chicken, and sandwiched between two pieces of sourdough slathered with tarragon-spiked mayonnaise. 

I’m looking forward to trying purslane in a salad, with grilled zucchini and tomato. Any thoughts on what else to pair purslane with? 

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