Purslane (Portulaca oleracea) is a super common weed that pops-up in almost any garden this time of year- don't weed it! Instead, harvest it for the amazing food and medicine that it is. This unassuming weed has been identified as the richest known plant source of alpha-linoleic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid! Remember that omega-3's are the anti-inflammatory, immune-boosting, heart-healthy "good fats" most concentrated in fish oil, so having access to a local, bioregionally abundant plant source of this is fantastic! Also, most people's ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 fatty acids is waaaaaay off, which means more inflammation. Researchers think that ancestrally our ratio of 3's to 6's was a about a 1:1 ratio. The ratio in an average adult nowadays is about 1:15 to 1:17! Read: inflammation and cardiovascular problems that are epidemic in America and the developed world-basically the ills of the modern world. So, you can easily see how consuming ample amounts of Purslane while it's in season is beyond good for your health. It is also quite vitamin and mineral-rich, most notably in Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Magnesium, Potassium, and Calcium. If you don't feel solid on identifying it, check-out this great resource.
Purslane also contains high amounts of mucilage- a thick, moistening substance with a borderline gooey consistency, which can be difficult for some people to get past. The good news is that mucilage is very nourishing and healing to to the lining of our gut and intestines- a support many people need. And I've found that when its prepared in a salad, it can be a lot easier to enjoy! It has a lovely, somewhat sour flavor that pairs especially well with tomatoes, herbs, and a lemon-y dressing. I hope you'll try the recipe and think twice before weeding it from your garden!
Chopped Purslane Salad with Cilantro
2-3 cups Purslane, chopped leaves and stems
1 medium Cucumber, chopped into 1-inch squares
1/2 Onion, chopped
1 pint Cherry Tomatoes, quartered or halved
1 1/2 cups Cilantro, chopped finely
If you have a salad spinner, give the Purslane a quick spin (or be sure to rinse well), as it can often be dusty due its creeping growth form. Then combine all the ingredients. Toss with dressing of choice- I like a combo of nettle-infused raw apple cider vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice, and sea salt. Enjoy as it's own, or it's also great on a bed of quinoa. To bulk it up into a very filling and extremely omega-3 rich meal, add a can of sardines (they're yummier than you might think)! Additionally, the large amount of Cilantro gives this recipe another layer of medicinal action- it's a potent digestive aid which supports nutrient absorption and assimilation, is extremely mineral rich, and helps the body remove accumulated heavy metals
References & Resources
Purslane Weed (Portulaca oleracea): A Prospective Plant Source of Nutrition, Omega-3 Fatty Acid, and Antioxidant Attributes
Foraging: Identifying and Eating Purslane
Omega 3 Fatty Acids