When I saw “purslane” listed on my CSA‘s list of crops, I didn’t have a clue what it was. And when I received it in a recent box, I was still perplexed. “Isn’t this a weed? Haven’t I been pulling this out of my gardens for years now?” Well, it is a weed, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t food. After a little research I discovered that purslane is eaten by cultures all over the world and was a common ingredient used in American cooking up until the 20th century. Apparently George Washington used to eat it. On top of that, it is high in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin A, so our founding fathers were definitely on to something.
Armed with all this wonderful information I felt compelled to try it, but was still uncertain which recipe to put it in. I’m all for healthy food and trying new things, but if it doesn’t taste good what’s the point? I tasted a few leaves on their own and they were a little lemony with a peppery aftertaste. So far so good…probably a welcome addition to a salad. Lots of websites mentioned that they were a nice accompaniment to eggs, and that’s when I got the idea to add it to my mom’s potato salad recipe.
Potato salad is one of those American favorites that shows up at picnics and barbecues all summer long, especially on the 4th of July. I love all different kinds of potato salad, but of course there is a special place in my food memory for the mustardy one my mom always makes. I whipped up a batch and added in the washed purslane leaves. The two got along beautifully. The purslane added a little crunch and some nice bright green color to a normally all-yellow salad. And since the leaves are sturdy they stayed crunchy even after more than 24 hours in the dressing. That means you can make this salad in advance and spend your Independence Day watching parades, going on picnics, and thanking our forefathers for our freedom (and tasty salad additions).
Purslane-Potato Salad (adapted from my mom’s instructions)
- 2 1/2 pounds butter potatoes
- 8 eggs
- 1/2 – 1 cup of purslane leaves, washed & dried
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1/3 cup yellow mustard
- 1/3 cup sweet pickle relish
- 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- salt & pepper
- Place the potatoes in a large pot and cover with 3-4 inches of water. Bring to a boil. After 10 minutes of boiling, add the eggs and continue to boil for an additional 10 minutes. Drain the water and place the pot in the refrigerator to cool. (If you’re in a rush you can rinse the potatoes & eggs in cool water for 10-15 minutes instead). When the potatoes & eggs are cool, peel them and cut into small chunks.
- In a medium-sized bowl whisk together the mayonnaise, mustard, relish, & vinegar. Season with salt & pepper.
- In a large bowl combine the chopped potatoes, chopped eggs, & purslane leaves. Pour 1/2 – 2/3 of the dressing over the potato mixture and gently toss to coat. Add more dressing until it reaches the consistency that you’d like. Refrigerate until you’re ready to serve.
Time: 30 minutes hands on, plus cooling time
Notes: When I looked over the instructions I had written down from my mom I realized that she usually adds milk to thin the dressing out a bit, but I subbed in apple cider vinegar instead. Feel free to use either, they are both good. Also, you will probably have more dressing than you need for this recipe, but it also makes a good base for a regular green salad (just whisk in some olive oil to thin it out).