Purslane: The Snobby Weed

Purslane, an annual succulent, has created a lush carpet over the majority of our fields.   While we’ve been pulling it out and tossing it into the compost pile,  it may be time to reconsider this secret nutritional powerhouse.  The juicy succulent contains a large amount of Omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, Vitamin A,  iron, and other essential nutrients.   Research even claims that it may have positive effects on depressive brain chemicals due the presence of calcium, tryptophan, and magnesium.

While largely considered a weed in the United States, the plant is cultivated and eaten regularly by many other cultures.   A demand for the slightly lemon and salty flavored greenery is slowly on the rise by some chefs in the Twin Cities, but can we utilize the plant at St. Olaf?  In previous years, when weather has been hard on other vegetable crops, STOGROW has harvested and sold purslane to Bon Appetit.  Turns out, it just ended up wilting in the salad line because students and visitors didn’t know what it was.   Maybe a little educational notation could be placed by it in the salad bar, or the Bon App Chefs can sneak it into stir frys or other dishes.   Okay, maybe “sneaking” isn’t a good method to get students over their food fears. My mom used to try and trick my friends and I into eating vegetables we didn’t like by skinning them.  It didn’t really work on me, (I KNOW that spongy flesh with the beady little seeds and tangy taste is an evil eggplant, NOT zucchini. Nice try.) but one of my veggie-hating friends was fooled into falling in love with “chocolate bread” that was brimming with skinned zucchini.   I’m just saying…it works.

This past week, I’ve experimented with tossing some purslane into a simple mixed salad of kale, rosemary, basil, chinese chives, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, almonds, sea salt, and pepper.   I spent some time doing a bit of serious “educational research” on Pinterest (ha) and found some purslane recipes that I’m curious to try:

Lacinato Kale Roll with Sauteed Purslane – Great use of the booming kale in our personal garden plots!

Potato, Purslane, Caper Salad  –  Capers, enough said.  I’m guessing the lemon/salt flavor of purslane will be a great compliment!

Purslane and Basil Pesto – aww yeayuh. 

Who knew I’d be excited about weeding?



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