While people in the USA usually regard this plant as a nuisance weed, the purslane has found its use in a variety of kitchens all around Europe, Asia, the Middle East and even Mexico.
The common purslane (portulaca oleracea), sometimes referred to as little hogweed, pigweed, parsley or fondly known as ‘that darn weed again’; is a succulent green plant with edible stems, leaves and flower buds.
When fresh, it is widely used as a salad with a dash of olive oil and some freshly squeezed lemon juice; yet it can be cooked in the same way as spinach, effortlessly sautéed with some onions, tomatoes and garlic and is a quite suitable addition in many stews, soups and even smoothies.
If you are sceptical of the healthy qualities this ‘weed’ has, rest assured that it as healthy as any other vegetable: 100 g of purslane contains up to 81% and 25% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin E and vitamin C, respectively.
The same amount of parsley also contains 1320 IU of vitamin A, which makes for 44% of the recommended daily intake for men and nearly two thirds of the recommended daily intake for women!
Furthermore, it is rich with omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants; which can potentially protect against a possible decline in mental ability related to aging, some eye diseases, arthritis and other conditions. Finally, it also has vitamins B, C; lots of magnesium and calcium, making it a nutritious addition to your diet.
Unfortunately, any sort of possible interaction or adverse reaction remains unproven, particularly because of the scarcity of clinical studies in regards to its use.
This is also the main reason why judicious use of the purslane is warranted during pregnancy and breastfeeding, despite the contradictory and poorly evaluated effects on uterine contractions.
So, stop treating parsley as an annoying weed and begin incorporating it into your diet. You can even grow your own pigweed by sowing the seeds in a container filled with potting soil, keeping it moist (yet be mindful of the dangers of over-watering the soil) and watch it grow by placing it on a sunny window sill.