The Really WILD Food Guide


Eating Weeds - Sweet Chilli Thistles

Parts of certain, but not all types of thistle, are edible. Don't believe it? Then try this method of cooking the main ribs of young spring basal rosette leaves of the Dwarf Thistle [Cirsium acaule]. The leaf ribs of larger specimens [this one was about 12 inches across] can be quite succulent.


The first thing to to is protect your hands with some gloves. To harvest the leaf ribs place each leaf on a chopping board and cut on either side of the main rib with a sharp knife. Just use the thickest 3 or 4 inches of each rib and discard the rest. Collect about a good handful per person.

Next, place each rib on a flat surface and with a sharp knife scrape away any downy material to
reveal the slender green stem beneath.

There's no reason why the leaf ribs could not be curried [add some diced potato for bulk], used as a simple vegetable, or perhaps boiled then added to a salad. Rather than using tomato paste you could use canned tomatoes to conjour a sort of vegetable stew.

  Thistle leaf ribs
Chilli powder - pinch
1 tbsp. tomato puree
Water or stock
Honey - clear
Salt and pepper






· Drop the greens into boiling water and cook for about 3 - 5 minutes. Time will depend on rib thickness and bitterness [sample one rib after suggested time, however don't overcook].

· Meanwhile, take a pinch of chilli powder and heat in a pan with a slug of oil to release the flavour. · Add some tomato paste to the pan and stir in, followed by about 1 cup of water
or stock. Stir. · Add the thistle greens and simmer gently for about 5 minutes. · Season to taste and then stir in a good slug of clear honey.

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