Then a few years ago a friend who grew up in Mexico spied it and got very excited: How lucky I was to have verdolaga growing in my backyard! She explained that her family would go to a nearby field to pick it and stew it up with pork (one popular recipe is Espinazo de Puerco con Verdolagas).
Well, now I have quite a bit of the crunchy, lemony plant growing in my beds, and I’ve been digging up seedlings to share with friends. Verdolaga – common purslane, as it’s known here – is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins C and E and beta carotenes, according to “The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone” by Deborah Madison. One neighbor who came by for seedlings said she planned to feed it to her chickens so their eggs would be rich in omega-3s.
It’s sold in some farmers’ markets, and I’ve come across seed packets of a variety called “golden purslane” that’s supposed to grow taller and less tangy. But who wants less tangy when the wild stuff is so tasty and grows for free? It’s a great addition to salads, soups and stews and is an ingredient in many Eastern Mediterranean cuisines. A member of the Portulacaceae family, cousin to the moss rose and miner’s lettuce, it’s apparently been part of the human diet since prehistoric times.
I came across a “Joy of Cooking” recipe for tabbouleh that includes an optional cup of chopped purslane and have been making it that way ever since. Now I can’t wait for cooler weather so I can cook some purslane pork stew.
Here are a couple of additional sources of information to explore:
University of Wisconsin-Madison Master Garden Program
The World Crops website has a recipe for purslane summer salad.