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The newest salad green is just an old weed that's probably already in your garden

Of the many edible "weeds" you might be passing unawares, or otherwise inadvertently tearing from the flowerbeds of your own garden, or in my case from between my pavers, Purslane is surely the most overdue for re-classification from weed to vegetable. 

Whether boiled, pickled, blended, or raw in salads and sandwiches as a stand-in for spinach, the tangy, slightly salty treat knows no bounds!

Purslane (Portulaca oleracea) is a prostrate succulent that can be found growing in thick sprawling blankets all over Australia, where its presence and use (both culinary and medicinal) pre-date the arrival of European settlers.

In fact, Indigenous Australians frequently collected its tiny black seeds, grinding them into a flour which was mixed with water and cooked over hot ashes to make a highly nutritious bush bread.

Purslane is extremely hardy, thriving in any soil or climate type - traits which have no doubt influenced it's reputation as a garden pest. But this juicy little plant not only tastes great, but also contains a multitude of much-needed compounds and minerals:

  • Vitamins A, B, C, and 7 times more vitamin E than spinach
  • Higher Omega 3 content than any other leafy vegetable, as well as some oily fish (a perfect supplement for vegetarians)
  • Iron, Calcium, Potassium, and Magnesium
  • Packed with antioxidants

My favourite way to eat purslane is tossed into a refreshing summer salad of watermelon, rocket and shavings of parmesan with a balsamic dressing drizzled on top.

If you can't find it growing wild, purslane is popping up at food markets all over the country.

If you do grab yourself a handful from your garden, park, or alternative foraging hotspot, don't forget to rinse it before you tuck in!  If you do locate some Purslane, it's incredibly easy to grow, so if you like it, add it to your garden or pots.  

Image: MIMOHE/Shutterstock

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