Purslane (Portulaca oleracea), which is commonly regarded as a troublesome garden weed today, has been used as a succulent food crop for more than 2,000 years. The plant is native to the area of India and Persia, from which it has spread to Europe, the America's, and almost every other corner of the world. The reason for its worldwide distribution is two fold; first the plant is prolific, second if cooked properly it's delicious.

My favorite recipe comes from Mexico, where purslane is called "Verdolagas" and is sold in most markets as a potherb.

Pick the tender young leaves and stems, wash well and chop coarsely, then stew/cook (or microwave) until tender. This recipe calls for one to two cups of cooked purslane. Do not overcook, purslane will become very "slippery" if cooked too long. Then, separately, make a chili sauce by heating three tablespoons of olive oil and brown three tablespoons of flour.

To the browned flour add two cups of vegetable broth, two tablespoons of chili powder, one teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder. Stir well and simmer for about 10 minutes, if you wish you can thicken the chili sauce with a little corn starch. After the sauce is ready add the cooked, chopped purslane (one to two cups), and one cup of grated Monterey Jack or Colby cheese. Simmer for an additional 5 minutes to allow the cheese to melt, then serve at once, enjoy!

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