Verdolaga, Purslane: The Best Cooked Greens

Verdolaga, Purslane: The Best Cooked Greens

Verdolaga, purslane in English, is the indigenous Texas Mexican herb that I love to serve for company.  It is my “go to” recipe for a delicious green side dish that goes with absolutely anything.  Verdolaga grows plentiful for most of the year in central, southern Texas and northeastern Mexico.  With fresh tomatoes, onion and green Serrano chile, it’s delicious.  Also highly nutritious,

Verdolaga, purslane cooked with tomato, onion and green chile serrano.

My mom cooked Verdolaga, collecting it from around the house and neighborhood.  It is an authentic, ancient food, central to our Texas Mexican cuisine.  Here in Houston you can find it growing in the cracks of sidewalks.  Today not many cooks know about its culinary importance.  Incredibly, it is disliked and considered a weed by large agribusiness.  That’s unfortunate because verdolaga is super rich in Vitamins A and C, and contains more omega 3 fatty acids than some fish.   Let’s not kill verdolaga, let’s eat it.Verdolaga, purslane, is crisp and delicious, picked within the first two weeks.

The scientific name is Portulaca oleracea, and although wikipedia and other sites claim it was brought here from Asia, it is now known by archaeologists that verdolaga is native also to Texas, the Southwest US and Mexico.  The Pueblo and Navajo people gathered and ate these fresh, crispy greens, as did the Tewa, Mescalero Apache, Pima, Tarahumara and others.   Pick the succulent leaves when they are just sprouting, in the first two weeks, when they are the most flavorful and nutritious.

This recipe features the classic verdolaga combination of tomato, onion, chile.

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Recipe for Verdolaga, Purslane

Ingredients  (serves 4)
1 lb Verdolaga, washed and trimmed
1/4 Onion, peeled, sliced thinly, (makes 1/3 cup)
1 Garlic clove, minced
6 cups water
1 Roma Tomato, cut into large cubesVerdolaga, purslane is cooked with three classic ingredients, tomato, onion and chile
1 Green Chile Serrano, cut into thin slices

1 Tbl Canola Oil
1/4 tsp Salt or to taste
Generous grinding of Black Pepper

Method
1.  Wash the verdolaga well and trim away any brown leaves and knotty stems.  Place in a saucepan, cover with water and bring to a boil.  Cook for 20-25 minutes until the stems are completely soft.  After they are cooked, use a slotted spoon to remove the greens,  and place them in a strainer to drain. Set the water aside.  It is a delicious broth and also makes a great stock.
2.  In a skillet, heat the oil, then add the onion, garlic, tomato and chile. Cook for about 3 minutes until the onion becomes translucent.
3.  Place the verdolaga on a cutting board and cut it into 2″ lengths.
4.  Add the verdolaga to the skillet and cook for a minute.  Add 1 1/2 cups of the verdolaga broth, bring to a boil and cook for another 5 minutes.  Taste and correct the salt.  Add a generous grinding of black pepper.

Serve hot.
NOTE:  Sometimes you’ll want to serve it as a soup, so add all of the broth in step #4.

¡Buen Provecho!

 

 

 

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7 thoughts on “Verdolaga, Purslane: The Best Cooked Greens”

  • Thank you Thank you Thank you! My aunts and myself often talk about my Grandma’s cooking and one dish we never new how to duplicate was her Verdolaga’s with pork. I can’t wait to try this recipe. And All the interesting history !

  • I seriously feel like crying right now. I could not remember for the life of me how to do this recipe mi mami would always make it for me and years after her passing away I find this recipe which is EXACTLY as my mom’s. I am so happy I can’t wait to make this. I know some Mexican stores sell verdolagas in the produce area so I can’t wait to go on the “hunt” lol thank you soooooo much from the bottom of my heart!!!!

  • My grandma made dishes with vertolaga, especially with Pork. Need more recipes how to use it. Thank you

  • I am a Texas archeologist (retired), as well as a gardener and forager. I am interested in your mention that verdolago has been found archeologically in the region. Can you offer a citation or two? Thanks!

  • this was delish! I had a couple of lovely plants that went into the dish. a great use for purslane! we served with some antelope backstrap medallions. eating like royalty!

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