Purslane Pesto

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As you may have caught on by now, I love making dinner out of things that other people toss in their lawn waste bag.  When I spotted purslane growing at the feet of my peppers, I knew it was time for another of my "eat your weeds" experiements.  

Purslane is a low-growing, sprawling plant with succulent-like, deep green leaves.  While it's commonly thought of as a weed, it's actually quite edible.  Its slightly lemon-y flavor is delicious when mixed in salads or pesto.  Further, purslane is a nutritional powerhouse.  It's chock-full of vitamin E and contains more omega-3 fatty acids than any other plant.  (So says the internets!)

Purslane is also easy to identify, and grows throughout most of the world.  Its only look alike is a plant called spurge―which is poisonous―but there's a quick way to tell the difference.  If you think you've found purslane, break one of the stems.  Spurge has a milky white sap, while purslane will have only a little clear moisture.

Once you've found your own patch of purslane, here's a yummy pesto recipe to get you started on your way to eating it.

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Purslane Pesto (Makes enough to lightly sauce 1 pound of pasta)

Ingredients

  • 1 packed cup purslane leaves (if you don't have enough purslane, top off the cup with basil)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup shelled pistachios
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ - ½ cup extra virgin olive oil

Directions

In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the pistachios to small crumbles.  Add the purslane, garlic, and salt, and continue to whiz until they're well incorporated.  Now add the cheese, and give the pesto just a few more pulses.

Lastly, with the machine running, open the top spout of the food processor and slowly drizzle in the olive oil.  The amount I use is always a little different, but there will be a moment when the sauce suddenly comes together―that's when it's time to stop.  (I'm convinced it depends on the phases of the moon.  Or perhaps, more realistically, the amount of moisture in the purslane leaves.)  

Spoon out your pesto over warm pasta or serve it with crackers and veggies.