Discovering the Purslane Plant, Part 3

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Freelance writer, community herbalist and medicine maker, Jennifer Heinzel hails from the cold city of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Jennifer is an avid writer, especially for anything folklore or myth-related to herbalism. She has written for the Chequamegon co-op, United Plant Savers journal, and NorthPoint Health & Wellness center. Visit Thymes Ancient Remediesto read more from Jennifer.

I previously wrote about the history of purslane, a well-traveled herb renounded for its medicinal properties, in part 1 of my purslane profile. In my second part I uncover recommendations from renowned herbalists.

Like usual, because I LOVE to take my food as medicine, I have incorporated purslane into some of my favorite recipes. The first two recipes are my personal favorites from herbal travels of mine, and the third recipe is from Pamela Jones’s book Just Weeds.

Wild Greens Pesto

This recipe was created at the United Plant Savers’ Goldenseal Sanctuary in Rutland, Ohio when I was an intern there the fall of 2011. We created this pesto with help from a local wild food and forager teacher Rebecca Wood. It’s a very unique twist to a popular favorite.

• 2/3 to 3/4 cup walnuts
• 3 cups basil (sweet, Italian, Thai or lemon)
• 1 handful kale
• 3 to 4 handfuls wood sorrel
• 3 to 5 cloves garlic
• 1/2 to 3/4 cup olive oil, divided
• 1 to 2 handfuls purslane
• 1 small handful amaranth
• 1/2 cup parmesan, to taste
• Salt, to taste

1. Lightly brown the walnuts in the oven at 325 degrees for 5 to 7 minutes. Remove them from the pan and chop them on a cutting board.

2. Next, combine basil, kale and sorrel with the garlic, walnuts and some of the olive oil. Blend until smooth. Scrape contents from the side of the blender, then add the purslane and amaranth. Slowly add some more oil if it looks like it needs to be more wet.

3. Add the rest of the olive oil, parmesean and salt (you can add more or use less of any greens based on your taste buds).

4. This pesto is best enjoyed on spinach and whole wheat pasta with local chicken, or as tomato-sauce substitute for a pesto pizza! 

*Note: Freeze the final product in ice cube trays, and take out what you need a few days before using. Thaw in the fridge.

Quiet Creek Wild Greens Salad

This recipe was put together at a dinner after a wild food and foraging walk with the Pennsylvania State professor Eric Burkham at the Quiet Creek Herb Farm in Brookville, Pennsylvania, where I had been interning at the time. This was the first time I had ever heard of, let alone tasted purslane. And since, it has kept a special place in the wild foods part of my heart. SERVES 4

• 4 handfuls romaine lettuce
• 3 handfuls kale
• 2 handfuls lamb’s quarters
• 1 handful purslane
• 2 handfuls “deer tooth”
• Watercress, to taste
• 1 handful dandelions
• Olive oil and balsamic vinegar or raspberry balsamic vinaigrette
• Chevre or another cheese topping, optional

1. Pick your green ingredients fresh when they are at their best, and wash them immediately in cold water. Dry the leaves.

2. Cut up the leaves and arrange however you wish. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Or, my personal favorite addition, top the salad with chevre and raspberry balsamic vinaigrette.

Purslane & Sorrel Summer Soup

This recipe is featured in Pamela Jones’s book Just Weeds. She says that it is one of her favorite simple, creamy purslane soup recipes, and I am definitely adding it to my herb-recipes-to-cook list! SERVES 2

• 1 to 2 tablespoons butter
• 1 cup sorrel tops
• 1 cup purslane
• 1 to 2 cups chicken or beef broth, or to taste

1. In a medium-sized soup pot, heat 1butter over medium-high heat. Add the sorrel tops and purslane and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.

2. Pour into two soup bowls, and add heated, seasoned beef, chicken (or vegetable if vegetarian) broth! Enjoy hot or cold.

*Note: For a creamier winter soup, sauté onion with butter. Then puree in 1/2 pound purslane and sorrel tops each, 2 tablespoons flour and 2 cups chicken broth. Next, add 2 more cups broth or 1 cup broth plus 1 cup milk (or cream).


+ For further historical information and recipes, check out Pamela Jones’s book Just Weeds.
+ For modern studies and easy-to-use information, check out Kathi Keville’s book Herbs for Health and Healing.
+ For traditional gypsy and other indigenous uses, check out Juliette de Bairacli Levy’s book Common Herbs for Natural Health.

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