Purslane is an annual succulent, also known as pigweed, little hogweed, or pursley. Though it isn’t widely cultivated today, it once had an extensive old-world distribution network from North Africa through the Middle East and India to Malaysia and Australia. Interestingly, though commonly considered an "exotic weed" there is evidence of a purslane relative in deposits in Crawford Lake, Ontario, dating back to 1430-89 ACE. So you can enjoy purslane knowing it’s actually an indigenous Ontario heirloom green! Purslane is commonly seen as a ground cover: its smooth, reddish stems produce clustered green leaves that are thick and very smooth. Purslane produces yellow flowers that open only in the morning. It is a very hardy plant, able to tolerate drought and poor soil. As a succulent, purslane can survive in these harsh conditions because it stores water in its leaves (think aloe and cacti). Purslane has sour lemon notes and a slight saltiness. Both leaves and stems can be used fresh in salad, stir fried, or cooked like spinach; its hardiness also makes it ideal for use in soups and stews. Widely used in Greece in salad, purslane leaves and stems are fried with feta cheese, tomato, onion, garlic, oregano, and olive oil. Purslane is on of the seven herbs used in a symbolic Japanese New Year’s ritual dish. Try it cooked into lasagna, sauces, casseroles, stews…you name it! I’ve even seen some recipes for purslane pesto, which sounds delicate and fresh. Nutritionally, purslane is a powerhouse: it has more than double the Omega-3’s that kale has; four times the vitamin E of turnip leaves; and as much iron as spinach. One cup of cooked purslane leaves contains 90mg of calcium, 561 mg of potassium, and more than 2,000 IUs of vitamin A. Purslane is also an excellent source of vitamins B and C and dietary minerals such as magnesium, calcium, and potassium.