Eat Your Weeds!

Photo via Brooklyn Supper

This winter, many of my friends were raising marvelous salad greens in their gardens, and serving them up into yummy, healthy salads. It was so smart! Organic and micro-green vegetables, such as kale, cress, spinach, chives, beets, radish, borage, etc. are super nutritious, but can be pricey! Although I always get excited every spring about raising veggies in my yard, I have rarely grown anything that ended up on our plates. 

Some arugula and a few cherry tomatoes are about it.

So when I stumbled upon this edible weed called Purslane (also known as Portulaca) on one of my favorite garden blogs, Serenity in the Garden, I got a little excited. According to garden expert Jan Johnsen, this abundant weed is one of the most nutritious greens in the world.

The second I saw the photo of this stuff, I recognized it immediately. It’s that low-growing, red-stemmed weed that loves to sprout out of my gravel beds. Purslane reportedly is packed with Omega-3 fatty acids, and the stems are high in vitamins A and C, and has been eaten for generations in Asia, the Mediterranean, Mexico and South America for its health benefits. It’s even drought-tolerant.
However, looking at this photo, I would call it anything but appetizing.

But look again! This photo and dish, Chick Pea Salad with Purlane and Arugula, is from Kitchenography (Click for recipe). Purslane is crispy and has a peppery taste, and you can eat it raw in salads, or sauteed or boiled into a sidedish.
Funny how presentation makes all the difference.  

Photo via

Here’s another salad using purslane from SimplyRecipes (click link for recipe). 

Photo via SimplyRecipes

One warning on eating this, and other weeds: Purslane looks a lot like another common weed called spurge, which is poisonous. The difference is that purslane has clear water in its stems, while spurge has milky liquid. 

Photo Via Elliemay’s Blog

I think it’s kind of funny how a plant is a weed if it just grows by itself,
 but if you plant it with purpose–or discover it tastes good–it is a vegetable. If you don’t have any growing in your sidewalk cracks, you might find it at your farmer’s market. Epicurious also has a few purslane-inspired recipes to try.

Photo Via Serenity in the Garden

Purslane, or Portulaca, is cultivated as a flowering ground cover, also called Moss Rose. 
For eating purposes, they advise you stick to the wild stuff. And needless to say, wash it well!

I’m now curious about other edible weeds that I’ve heard about. (Sounds like another book possibility!)  I have chopped up nasturtiums (both petals and flowers) and added them to tuna salad for their onion-y flavor. And I have plenty of other edible weeds, such as dandelions and clover, growing in my yard. 

So maybe I’m not such a failed vegetable gardener after all!

7 thoughts on “Eat Your Weeds!

  1. Lovely posting! I like how one door (or weed) leads to another, and another.

    No, you're right, moss rose is not the edible one. Folks do sometimes see the name Portulaca and get confused.

    So much to grow, so little time.

    All joys,

    Sharon Lovejoy Writes from Sunflower House and a Little Green island

  2. Great post! One person's weed is another's scrumptious salad. Chickweed (Stellaria media) is another ubiquitous garden weed that is delectably edible (in moderation, of course) with good nutritional content and chock full of Vitamin C.

  3. so interesting, i never knew that portulaca was edible! can't wait to put more weeds in my next salad!

  4. I love this post! You are so much fun!! I especially love to find edibles with flowers to add beauty to a salad. And what a plus when loaded with veta vita vegamins. Hope you don't mind, but I want to share this post with my Texas friends. We've been following a guy called Merriwether here who has been teaching us about weeds and foraging. Thanks!! Pammy

  5. what a great news!
    I have tons of that weed in my garden and for some reason I didnt want to take it away form the vegetables beds. Now I have the reason, tx u!!
    The last pict is from a plant that here we know as "capuchina", and is delicious in salads.
    Tx u so much for taht information.


  6. I've heard of Purslane but have never seen it (that I know of!) – thanks for the post and the great pictures, recipe links, etc. What a great find, and how fortunate that you've got it in your yard!

    I remember we used to eat sheep sorrel from our backyard when I was a kid – another great "weed" that is a tasty treat – and has a lot of health benefits.

  7. I'd heard of edible purslane and known that one of my garden nemeses was called purslane, but I hadn't put the two halves together. Duh! Between what I have in the garden now (yah, I'm behind on my weeding…) and self-sown lettuces from plants from 15+ years ago I should have myself some nice green pickings.

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