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As you may recall, I belong to a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) from which I receive a bounty of farm-fresh produce each week. Last week there was something new and very strange in my bag that I did not recognize. It is called purslane. Upon research, meaning a Google search, I found that purslane is an edible weed. The leaves, stems, flowers, and seeds are all edible. It is harvested in the summer and it now turns up at farmers’ markets in the late summer months.

You can use it raw in salads; toss it into soups; boil it, or saute it. Purslane is best used fresh. But, if you must store it, wrap it in a moist paper towel and place it in a plastic bag in the vegetable bin of your refrigerator. Purslane may be substituted for spinach in any dish that calls for spinach, raw or cooked. And in fact, cooked purslane tastes exactly like cooked spinach. I doubt that even the most advanced palate would be able to taste the difference between the two.

As I said, purslane is a weed. It is the bane of many gardeners. And now that I know what it is… add me to the list of gardeners who curse it.  It has been taking over my flower garden for the past couple of summers now, and until I found it in my CSA bag, I had no idea what that damned weed was.  When I figured out that the greens in my bag were the same thing as the weeds in my backyard, I was so disgusted that I nearly tossed the bundle from my CSA into the trash! I HATE purslane!!! Just look at it in the photo above, it has choked out every flower that was near it. I can’t get rid of it. Google revealed that purslane is an especially hearty weed – NO kidding!

Anyhow, I finally took control of my emotions and packed the stuff into the ice chest I was taking over to Coronado. On the last day, we were there, I finally had the courage to cook with the weed.

Yes, I’m glad I did. I made a potato gratin with purslane, and it was delicious and it would have been a waste to throw it in the trash. I guess I’ll get out in the yard this weekend, dig out the purslane in my flower garden, look at it as a blessing instead of a curse, and serve it up.

Most importantly, I want to send a huge shout-out and many thanks to Sheila for a wonderful long weekend at her absolutely gorgeous cottage on Coronado! It was a joy to share such relaxing girlfriend time with you there. xoxo

Potato, Tomato, and Purslane Gratin

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced, divided
1 pound Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/8-inch thick
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 large ripe tomatoes, sliced 1/8 inch thick, divided
1/2 red onion, peeled and diced
1 1/2 cups purslane leaves, roughly chopped (substitute fresh spinach if you don’t have weeds in your garden!)
1/2 cup roughly chopped parsley, divided
1 pound red potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/8-inch thick
1 cup milk
4 tablespoons butter, divided
2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spread the olive oil onto the bottom and sides of a rectangular baking dish then scatter about 1/3 of the minced garlic over the bottom of the dish.

Arrange the vegetables in layers; starting with the Yukon gold potatoes and seasoning each layer with salt and pepper as you go.

Next layer with 1 of the sliced tomatoes, the red onion, the purslane, and half of the parsley.

Finally, layer with the red potato slices, the remaining 1 tomato, and the rest of the parsley.

Place milk and 2 tablespoons of butter in the microwave and heat until the butter is melted.  Pour over the gratin.  Slice the remaining 2 tablespoons butter into pats and dot over the gratin. Sprinkle with the dried thyme and season one last time with salt and pepper.

Cover baking dish tightly with foil and bake in preheated oven for 1 hour, or until fork-tender. Remove foil and continue to bake for another 20 to 30 minutes, or until all the liquid is absorbed.

Serves 8

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1 comment

1 Marissa { 10.17.12 at 1:57 PM }

You’re so resourceful Mom, eating weeds for dinner

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