Purslane in My Sauce

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Where you may have seen a weed, I saw an opportunity in my garden bed. A wild purslane had taken root, so I thought about dinner.

purslaneDo you realize that vegetables go in and out of favor? You may realize that they do, but most of us do not think about what those vegetables may be. I think that the local food movement is bringing back older vegetables.  In the spring, I was in the garden center buying more moss rose for my containers on the back porch. The assistant noticed my daughters munching on the leaves, when she asked if I knew that it was alright for them to eat those leaves. I told her yes. In fact the reason for the purchase was due to my daughters eating the plants that I had. She smiled saying that the plant was high in vitamin C. Moss rose, purslane, comes in many varieties, and I have seen them showing up in more gardens as a decorative plant, yet this plant used to be grown more as a vegetable or medicine. The wild varieties have a peppery taste.

    Purslane is good raw or cooked, and the leaves and stem are edible. I have noticed purslane for sale in Middle Eastern food stores, but I cannot remember seeing it in a dish in a restaurant. Even the cultivated varieties have a sharp taste. I like adding them to salads. I love the leaves in a soup. Pickling the leaves is a favorite in my home. I had not used them in sauces, so I decided to try them in a pasta sauce.
    For my sauce, I made a basic tomato sauce. I felt that the stems of the purslane may be a bit hard (they need a bit longer to cook), and that the stems could be more pungent (they have a stronger flavor). I stripped the leaves off the stem, and I threw them into the sauce for the last minute of cooking. The leaves did not seem to flavor the sauce, but they did pack a little punch when eating. You may want to taste these leaves before adding a large amount. I have not tried cooking these with a sauce from the beginning, but this might not be a bad idea. The texture of the sauce could change with the gelatinous interior of the leaf.  My five year old daughter was not expecting the leaf in her sauce, so after eating half of the dinner, she determined that she was not going to eat more of the green stuff. The other children had no complaints.
   I have better luck with purslane in containers. I moved all of my purslane from the shady porch to a container my wife wanted in the front yard. This container is in full sun for most of the day, and I have only watered it when I am permitted, so twice a week. This plant has done well with this drought. I found a volunteer purslane growing in my pot of society garlic. Mexican petunias also found their way into this pot. The combination of plants has been quite nice. I am not sure why the plants in the beds do not last, but they come and go around the garden. In the containers, they obtain controlled watering with potting soil.
   I like seeing more purslane in the gardens I pass by when driving through neighborhoods for my home inspections. They do have wonderful small flowers. Maybe more people will start eating this old vegetable again, since they are growing it anyway. I did not mention, but you can prepare purslane like you would cook spinach. However, maybe this vegetable is an acquired taste. 

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This site came out of my desire to write about my love of gardening, but also to connect it to my knowledge derived from home inspections. That is why I tied it to the home inspection site.If you have questions, you can email them to me (frank at yourhoustonhomeinspector.com). For home inspections, call 713.781.6090.
Happy gardening, Frank


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