The Backyard Larder

A place to explore and buy perennial vegetables and other food plants.

Pink Purslane Pancakes

These were pancakes from pink purslane not pink pancakes!

Claytonia sibirica

Pink purslane is Claytonia sibirica, also known as Siberian purslane, Siberian spring beauty, Siberian miner’s lettuce or candy flower. It flowers later in the spring (from about April) but the leaves are out now as Claytonia sibirica is an evergreen perennial. Here it is growing around the crown of an ostrich fern.

Claytonia sibirica

and besides a bottomless pot that is protecting a hosta from slugs.

Claytonia sibirica

The leaves get a bit bigger than these later in the spring and will be less of a fiddle to pick then. But I was visiting my annual vegetable plot, where I have just a few perennial vegetables growing, and thought I would make use of the pink purslane that grows in the shade below the hedge, along with musk mallow, ostrich fern, wild garlic and hosta. I planted it there a few years ago. It has spread rapidly and now forms a green carpet around the other plants (a carpet that gets slightly threadbare in winter but soon greens up again in spring). Although it self-seeds effortlessly, it is a weak rooter so it can also be dislodged almost effortlessly from anywhere you don’t want it.

I tend to forget about it most of the year, but at this time of the year it is a useful source of Vitamin C. It has a slightly bitter, beety flavour and you may prefer its milder cousin, Claytonia perfoliata (which is an annual but is just as easy to keep going in the garden as it merrily self-seeds everywhere too!) Both are good for very early spring salads along with other greens such as bladder campion, salad burnet, violet leaves, winter, bitter and water cress, garlic mustard, garden sorrel and Welsh onions.

This time I used it instead of spinach in a recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi for green pancakes. (I also substituted Welsh onions for the spring onions and a dried red chilli instead of the two green ones.)

Pink purslane leaves

I had never cooked it before. When I wilted the leaves in a saucepan and squeezed them before chopping them to add them to the pancake batter I was surprised to see that they had pink juice!

Pink juice from cooked purslane leaves

The resulting pancakes were flavoursome, fresh and spicy! (Stew has just come in and sampled one and says they are really delicious – but he has just been for a long run and is probably extremely hungry!)

Pink purslane pancakes

(I also bought some self-seeded seedlings home from the plot and potted them up, so if you’d like to buy some Siberian purslane I will have plants for sale later in the spring.)

There are twenty-six species in the Claytonia genus. I’m fascinated after having read that some of them have edible tuberous roots that are known as ‘fairy spuds’. Green Deane of the excellent Eat The Weeds website lists Claytonia acutifolia, (Alaska), Claytonia caroliniana (eastern North America), Claytonia lancelolata (western North America), Claytonia megarrhiza (Rocky Mountains), Claytonia tuberosa (Alaska) and Claytonia virginica as having tuberous roots. Tiny but apparently tasty when cooked.

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