What the Heck Do I Do with Purslane, Anyway?

Purslane. Photo credit: Zachary D Lyons.

Purslane. Photo credit: Zachary D Lyons.

Maybe you've seen it grow in the sidewalk cracks, or along the side of the road. But these days, purslane is the most fabulous weed you've never tasted. Also known as pigweed, purslane is an succulent dating to ancient Egypt. All the cool kids are scooping it up at the market because it is a nutritional powerhouse.

Get a load of this: Purslane contains more Omega-3 fatty acids than any member of the plant world. So if for whatever reason, you're not a fatty fish (salmon, halibut, sardines) eater, purslane is an excellent Plan B for getting your Omega 3s, specifically in the form of alpha lineoleic acid (ALA). As we age, ALA and its Omega-3 companions are essential anti-inflammatory disease-fighting warriors, tackling everything from Alzheimer's to arteriosclerosis to rhumatoid arthritis. It also packs a nutritional punch: Just half a cup contains 35 percent of the RDA for Vitamin C and 44 percent for Vitamin A.

You can try cooking purslane on its own, but it may come off tasting a wee too medicinal. Try teaming it up with potatoes (Think potato salad at your next cook-out), cucumbers and tomatoes. Its flavor is tangy, almost lemony, similar to sorrel.  It would be great in a Sunday morning egg/hash brown mash-up; you'd get your Omega 3s before even walking out the front door. 

Purslane sticks around all summer long, so there's plenty of time to give it a try -- and if potatoes or cucumbers aren't your thing, check out this incredible list 45 Things to Do with PurslaneGrowing Washington and One Leaf Farm are among a handful of SFMA vendors growing it, so keep your eyes peeled for this amazing little weed that could.