>Food from weeds


Thanks to citygardeners recent post Ive realised that the plants which grow as weeds all over our garden are purslane (Portulaca oleracea) and are edible.

Richard Mabey in Food for Free and Roger Phillips in Wild Food mention sea purslane. The variety which grows in our garden must be related to this, but it doesnt need damp conditions. In fact, it grows everywhere, whether on parts of the plot that we water or on dry paths and uncultivated areas.

I made a salad of the leaves, salt and pepper, lime juice, olive oil and some pieces of roquefort. The purslane leaves dont have a lot of flavour, but provide a nice crunchy texture with the tangy cheese.

Roquefort and purslane salad

Vine leaves

Ive always loved dolmas (stuffed vine leaves) ever since I lived in Turkey, and Ive made them with packets or jars of vine leaves. Here, where were surrounded by vines, it seems ridiculous to buy the leaves, so I decided to try making dolmas with fresh leaves. I used wild ones which grow near the garden and picked the younger, fresher-looking ones.


(quantities depend on how many leaves you have and how big they are)

vine leaves


olive oil

salt and pepper

1 onion

pine kernels

raisins or currants

juniper berries (I used these because I like the flavour, but you can season the dolmas with parsley, dill, cumin, paprika or a mix of these spices and herbs)

Put the leaves in boiling water for a few minutes. Some recipes say you should cut the stem off first, but I find that leaving the stem on makes it easier to handle them once theyre cooked and tend to stick together.

Heat a cupful of rice in olive oil in a pan then cover the rice with water and add salt, bring the water to the boil and let it simmer for a couple of minutes then turn the heat off. The rice shouldnt be completely cooked as it will cook in the vine leaves.

In another pan sauté the chopped onion in olive oil, trying not let it brown, then add a tablespoonful of pine kernels and one of raisins and about a dozen chopped juniper berries. Mix these with the rice.

Cut the stems off the leaves, and remove the central vein if it seems tough. Put a spoonful of the rice mixture in the centre of each leaf and roll them up into parcels. Arrange them tightly in a pan, put a saucer or plate over them to keep them in place, and add enough water to cover them. Add some lemon juice and some white wine, too, if you like.

Simmer them gently for about 50 minutes and leave to cool. Remove carefully from the pan, sprinkle with lemon juice and serve as a meze or one of a selection of hors doeuvres.

It’s quite difficult to make the parcels – these were the four tidiest ones I made!

You can also make them with minced lamb – just add the lamb to the rice mixture. If you have any of the rice mixture left over it can be used to stuff peppers or tomatoes.


7 thoughts on “>Food from weeds

  1. >I always pick all the purslane that grows in my garden end make purslane soup, a tradicional southern portugal soup with bread goat cheese and purslane. Never had them raw in a salad…will have to try

  2. >ok lets seeI’m happy to help you find the edible purslanesI want the recipe of purslane soup :PDolmas. We call them dolmadakia (dolmadaki for 1 piece) because are small (first d like “door” second d like “th” in “then”Dolmadakia loves lemon. So add more and more and more lemon:)They must be like your finger or little bigger, try it the next time.And something else about the leaves. I ask my mother to cut some leaves from the plot (because I love dolmadakia)and she tell me that it’s too late now because the leaves are hard. We must collect leaves until May or at the start of June.If you put them in jar you can have leaves all the summerI want to eat dolmadakia now!

  3. >Yes, citygardener, it is too late now for the leaves, I think. I’ll have to wait till next year to try making them again. I don’t think I can make them much smaller – it’s too fiddly, but I’ll try to make them tidier next time!

  4. >my mother (:P) makes the best dolmadakia evershe used to has stock with leaves (except this year)She try many ways for this. I see her to stock the leaves with 3 ways until now: in refrigeration, in jars and (don’t laugh) in the plastic empty bottles of coca cola.If I buy a jar with leaves for dolmadakia I will send you photos to see how can you roll them. I know, they want time but… ok… it’s something delicius for me. I used to eat the best pieces from the casserole, which are the top of them 😛 (at the bottom the rice usually is too boil)

  5. >Last year I discovered purslane too and it grew any old where in my garden and we added it to salads all summer. I loved the texture and the fact that it needs no attention or much water – mine was growing in a sawdust path in the vegetable garden.

  6. >On a whim, I clicked on your July link. I have lots of purslane, too. I sometimes munch on it, but don’t often pick it to cook with. Maybe I should try some soup.I try to limit where I let it grow, though, and I don’t put it on my compost pile. Anywhere stems of the plant land, they can and most likely will root and grow again.Happy GBBD!

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