CSI: CSA - purslane, the ‘noxious weed’ that makes a tasty salad
July 24th, 2012
05:00 PM ET
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Stacy Cowley is CNNMoney's tech editor. She's in a complicated relationship with her CSA and explores the odd vegetables that show up in her haul in CSI: CSA. Previously, she battled amaranth greens.

“I’m not going to eat the purslane,” my friend Amy announced as we collected our CSA shares. “I grew up weeding that ^%$#.”

My CSA often coughs up veggies and greens you don’t usually see in the supermarket, but until Amy foisted her purslane share on me, I hadn’t realized the haul would include actual weeds.

Amy, who comes from rural Colorado, says she used to spend hours each week as a kid hunting down purslane shoots and fighting their attempts to take over her family’s vegetable patch. The USDA classifies it as “invasive and noxious.” Google its official name, “portulaca oleracea,” and you’ll get a long list of advice on killing it; Google “purslane” and you get tips for cooking it.

After a few dubious pokes at my tangly and now twice-as-big pile of purslane weeds, I gave them a rinse and cut off a stem to nibble. I was surprised: I normally find raw greens pretty blah, but purslane has a crisp, tangy and to me slightly lemony flavor. It’s a tasty noxious pest.

It’s also apparently a super-nutritious one. Purslane has more omega-3 fatty acids than any other green veggie, and it’s also a good source of Vitamin C, calcium and potassium.

The easiest thing to do with purslane is simply to toss it into a salad along with any other leafy greens you have on hand. But that’s pretty boring - I wanted options that would showcase my weed.

purslane salad

In one of my first experiments, I threw it into pasta, along with some bacon, sautéed onions, garlic, bread crumbs and olive oil. Verdict: Not bad! I’ve also seen recommendations for mixing it Turkish-style into yogurt with garlic and red pepper flakes, stir-frying it with soy sauce and sesame oil, and using it to top a green-veggie soup.

I went the salad route a few times with my purslane, but only after dulling the nutritional edge by obeying my cardinal rule of salad-making: Everything is Better with Cheese. An Epicurious recipe suggests mixing purslane, parsley and cherry tomatoes with a lemon-shallot vinaigrette. That sounded way too healthy, so I also tossed in chunks of fried Halloumi cheese.

I still haven’t convinced Amy to try any of my purslane concoctions, but hey - if it means I keep getting her share of each week, I’m perfectly happy to fan the flames of her hate-hate relationship with her childhood nemesis.

Previously - CSI: CSA – multiplying greens and the mystery of amaranth and With a CSA, Mother Nature is your personal chef and Clarified: What is a CSA? and Ramps, fiddleheads, fava beans and other spring vegetables about which people are freaking out

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Filed under: CSA • Gardening • Greens • Invasive Species • Salad • Vegetables

soundoff (85 Responses)
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    July 27, 2012 at 11:49 pm |
  15. Dale

    Purslane is so purvasive that You could feed the world on what grows wild. Once you have it in your yard you can't get rid of it. Pull it as a weed and let it lay on a pile for weeks and it is still green. I have eaten it and it is crucnchy and tastes okay in salads. Their are a lot of things "weeds" that grow in people yards that are edible. Puffalls before they explode can be fried like any mushroom. Eat well.

    July 27, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
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    July 27, 2012 at 8:12 am |
  18. imuneek

    This stuff is indeed good. My dad found some growing in the garden and made it into pork tacos... yummy! Apparently they eat it regularly down in Mexico. We gringos just need to get with the program, apparently. There's lots of good food that doesn't come neatly wrapped in plastic.

    July 27, 2012 at 6:46 am |
  19. eroteme

    I wonder if adding a little cocaine might further enhance the salad's flavor.

    July 26, 2012 at 7:45 pm |
  20. William

    Oh, they mean that weed.......
    The article just isn't as interesting now.

    July 26, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
  21. Facel

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    July 26, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
  22. Shirley

    My mother was from the old county. We were eating purslane and dandelions salads, hummus and pita bread long before they became fashionable. The old ways are always the best!

    July 26, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
    • WeedWino

      Know what you mean , mine was an old parish girl from Louisiana

      July 27, 2012 at 8:57 am |
  23. Wastrel

    I guess no one reads Ewell Gibbons any more. His books will open your eyes to all the possibilities of edible wild plants. Just make sure you know what you're eating.

    July 26, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
    • Wastrel

      Alas, after some searching I am unable to find his books online or even determine whether they are now in the public domain (they should be, he died in 1975).

      July 26, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
      • hawkechik

        Abebooks.com will probably be able to hook you up with some used copies of books in his bibliography. I remember the Grape-nuts commercials even now. And no, they wouldn't be in public domain. Only books published prior to I think, 1923 or thereabouts are at this time.

        July 26, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
        • noodlebrain

          Dang, you beat me to referencing Ewell Gibbons. "Ever eat a pine tree? Many parts *are* edible." heh heh

          July 26, 2012 at 8:13 pm |
      • pj

        i have found his books on ebay.

        July 27, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
  24. Stace

    Clever headline! Probably got 4 times the views than if you added an "s" to weed.

    July 26, 2012 at 9:49 am |
    • Rob

      I agree! I thought it was a reference to "weed" which DOES make any salad taste much better!

      July 26, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
    • vf

      LOL probably more like 400 times the # of views

      July 26, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
      • gatecrasher1

        420 times as many.

        July 27, 2012 at 12:37 am |
    • William

      Caught me! I didn't finish it.

      July 26, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
  25. Das0278

    We have found a noxious weed here call garlic mustard. It grows along most streams around our area. I've used it in salads, pastas, soups, I've even made it into a pesto. It ca take the place of spinach, basil, collards. Most anything you want to have a garlicky flavor it works great. And as for RAMPs alls I can say isYUMM!!! If you haven't ever had them you are truly missing out.

    July 26, 2012 at 7:51 am |
    • WeedWino

      Not really,.....Im standing down wind from you

      July 27, 2012 at 9:00 am |
  26. Ellie

    I'd like to try this, but I worry I may accidentally mistake purslane for another plant that's toxic. How do I not make that mistake and are there other toxic weeds that resemble this plant?? Thank you.

    July 25, 2012 at 9:34 pm |
    • turner9phil

      Yes, spurge is a little similar, but mildly toxic. Here's the difference:



      July 25, 2012 at 10:50 pm |
      • james

        just pulled some of that out of the garden today. Now that I know it is edable. I wil find out how it works in a collard green, swiss chard, salad. I like a vegge salad. with onion,carrots,bellpeper, tomato turnip, and what ever else from the garden chped up in a leaf salad. With dressing and dryed cheese on it. And a touch of lambquarter if any of that has come back up after being pulled.

        July 26, 2012 at 12:04 am |
    • nugun

      Purslane is rather distinguished.

      First off, it's got succulent leaves with round lobes. The only thing that reminds me of it are those Crassula ovata houseplants. But they're easily distinguished by the tan barky looking stems and much thick larger succulent leaves.

      Second, purslane stems are have a purple red hue. These two factors make it extremely easy to identify.

      I've harvested a fair amount last year from my garden.

      July 26, 2012 at 10:55 am |
  27. gsatlab3



    July 25, 2012 at 9:33 pm |
  28. linda

    You can eat them with meat and chile or pork and chile verde, with eggs and vegetables, They are very healty and delicious.

    July 25, 2012 at 9:25 pm |
    • ohsnap

      Yes, I don't like it raw but I do like it sautéed in olive oil and garlic.

      July 27, 2012 at 11:03 pm |
  29. princess

    DOES THIS GROW IN florida ??

    July 25, 2012 at 9:20 pm |
    • Bob Zanis

      YES IT doesnt

      July 26, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
      • princess

        Bob Zanis

        YES IT doesnt
        BOb does that mean yes or no ?

        July 27, 2012 at 12:40 am |
  30. Burbank

    Actually I would prefer to smoke a little weed. That will make ANY salad taste better!

    July 25, 2012 at 7:15 pm |
  31. Lisette

    I've been eating purselane for YEARS! I prepare it by sautee-ing it w/olive oil and garlic and a little bit of butter, and then toss it into some cooked spaghetti. YUMMY - weeds and pasta!!

    July 25, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
  32. Steves

    My girlfriend tossed my salad last night. It was awesome.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
  33. sylvan finkelstein


    July 25, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
  34. Mary

    My mother and grandmother used to make soup with purslane and it was delicious.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
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    July 25, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
  36. Blake

    You ever see the back of a twenty dollar bill... on weed?

    July 25, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
  37. The Pope From TV

    I don't blame the writer of this article, because I know the writers don't get to pick headlines... but CNN knew what it was doing when it chose to put "Weed makes a tasty salad" on its homepage. I wonder how many other people are going to come to this article and completely ignore it after realizing it's not about marijuana. It almost seems like it's doing the author more of an injustice.

    I just had to comment on this brief observation. You guys have a great day!

    July 25, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
    • You are not intelligent

      All CNNs headlines do this. They are are sensationalizing everything that they can.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
    • Nunya

      While I suspect you are correct in that whatever CNN employee wrote the headline was going for that effect, I also will point out that not everyone thinks of that when they see the word 'weed'. I know I sure didn't. I grew up in small town Midwest and heard of lots of people eating things you would think of as weeds – including purslane, burdock, dandelions, and others.

      July 25, 2012 at 9:15 pm |
      • turner9phil

        ... and lambsquarter, known as quelite in Spanish.

        July 25, 2012 at 10:53 pm |
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      Wait...headlines teasing readers to look at a story?? CNN must have invented this!

      July 26, 2012 at 8:08 am |
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    July 25, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
  39. Solo

    Of all the herbs and "weeds" that grow naturally, this is not one of the more tasty ones and the health benefits don't seem to be any better than lettuces. It's more of the silly hype that the farm-to-table movement has caused – don't get me wrong, I love the idea of the freshest foods available, but this nonsense is not necessary.

    July 25, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
  40. babs

    looks like someone tossed his salad

    July 25, 2012 at 11:32 am |
  41. scott bleyle

    Man I thought you said WEED.

    July 25, 2012 at 11:16 am |
    • Pat

      Me 2.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
  42. alex

    I just started experimenting with this. It's lemony when pickled but it is kind of messy and you'd probably have to eat it with a fork. When I did the quick boil prior to cooking it smelled like a combo of cabbage, spinach, and beans so I'm thinking maybe corned beef and purslane (instead of cabbage) might be good. I also think the stir-fry sounds good and also maybe a spanicopida, or quiche would work? I stopped trying to kill this and actually let it grow to eat it now.

    July 25, 2012 at 11:15 am |
  43. wildmansteve

    This is just one of hundreds of delicious, overlooked wild herbs, greens, fruits, berries, nuts, seeds, roots, and mushrooms most people don't know about. I've been leading foraging tours throughout the Greater NY area for over 30 years, and foraging is finally catching on. To learn more, check out http://www.wildmanstevebrill.com.

    July 25, 2012 at 10:59 am |
  44. wildmansteve

    This is just one of hundreds of common, delicious, easy-to-recognize wild foods that most people don't know about. I've been teaching people about foraging in the Greater NY area for over 30 years, and it's finally catching on. To learn more about the subject, check out http://www.wildmanstevebrill.com.

    July 25, 2012 at 10:57 am |
  45. Ann

    Not bad raw, but when cooked, it gets a bit slimy – similar to okra in texture.

    July 25, 2012 at 10:30 am |
    • What is this?

      Yes. And it kind of has this diahrea like smell to it.

      July 25, 2012 at 10:52 am |
  46. Mtngal

    I bought purslane seeds from Territorial Seed this spring (couldn't find any growing wild that I was sure was it) and am growing for eating. It is growing slowly here in the Pacific NW (a very cold summer so far), so I have a bit more until we can eat it.

    July 25, 2012 at 9:50 am |
    • Ann

      Had to laugh when I saw this – buying seeds for purslane sounds about like buying seeds for dandelions or crabgrass!

      July 25, 2012 at 10:31 am |
      • Multi-Tasking @ Work

        me too...won't everyone in his surrounding area be happy for the weeds growing in their yards.

        July 25, 2012 at 11:31 am |
    • Techsupport

      Careful, if it's not a native plant and is identified as an invasive species, bringing it in may be illegal.

      July 27, 2012 at 1:29 am |
  47. weezer

    I honestly thought this article was going to be a variation on pot brownies....

    July 25, 2012 at 9:00 am |
    • average dude

      me too

      July 25, 2012 at 9:21 am |
  48. What is this?

    So delicious! Much better than dandelion or root grass.

    July 25, 2012 at 8:44 am |
  49. Tammy

    So so so healthy for you. I believe this has more omegas than any other plant!

    July 25, 2012 at 2:21 am |
  50. Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫

    One can never go wrong with weed.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • Multi-Tasking @ Work

      Amen....is it weed:30 yet

      July 25, 2012 at 11:33 am |
    • RezHy

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      August 4, 2012 at 7:46 pm |
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