Sunday, 25 March 2012

A Passion for Prickles

My first attempt at cooking thistles worked very well.  I'll be buying some more next week to try the Greek way of cooking them with lemon and egg sauce.  If you pick your own thistles you want to get rid of all the green leaf and prickles leaving only the stalk and root. 

500g Kenker (Thistle) chopped into 1 cm slices 
2 diced onions
2 tblsp olive oil
1 tblsp tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
1 cup cooked chick peas or white beans
1 cup vegetable stock
salt and pepper
(250g of diced lamb is added in the Bodrum recipe, I didn't use this)

Sauté the onions in the oil for 5 mins until soft but not brown, add the kenker and garlic and  carry on frying for a few minutes.  Add the rest of the ingredients and put over a low light to simmer.  Add a little more stock if it gets too dry, but the roots give up quite a lot of liquid.  They are ready when the roots are completely soft. Mine took 90 minutes but were worth waiting for.  I was told they would cook in 30 minutes and reading around the subject, it seems that the type of ground the thistles grow in makes a big difference to how tough they are. Mine must have come off the side of a mountain. 

Eating thistle is supposed to be very good for your liver. So if your planning a night on the booze start your evening off with a plate of kenker.


  1. Marvellous, though I actually misread the title to begin with!

  2. As a Scot and a forager I certainly SHOULD have eaten thistles but I haven't. You have inspired me though and in, oh, 4 more months when ours have had enough sun, finally, to get that size I will be a-munching.

    In terms of cooking time, have you ever tried hot box cooking where you bring your item to the boil, simmer for 5-10 mins then pop into a box thickly filled with straw/hay/newspaper/wool - anything that insulates. It's like a slow cooker but without using any power - the things keep a good temp and cook slowly but really well. You can leave them from 1-8hrs and still get a warm meal coming out, with loads more nutrients preserved, and usually more flavour - like a soup that tastes better on the second day. I reckon 3hrs in a hot box would get those thistles to perfection (make sure the top is cover well too, I pile towels on top).

    If you decide to try it have a wee look online for tips and techniques to ensure success.

    1. I read an article a few weeks ago about a kind of bean bag that was being introduced in the poorer parts of Africa that could be put around a cooking pot and would keep the pot cooking for up to 8 hours, thus saving a massive amount of energy.

  3. I was concerned when you said it was taking longer than recipe said to happy it turned out okay at 90 minutes! Ignorant me, I wondered what part(s) of the thistle were stalk and roots! The finished dish looks delicious!

    There are so many "weed" or wild kinds of plants that are meant to be good to eat...I don't believe I've ever tried a one. Things like Jerusalem Artichoke, dandelion greens (I have had Dandelion wine), watercress, fiddlehead ferns, cactus, and on and on!

    Perhaps I would try if these were more available...I was always afraid I'd pick something poisonous or something that Don or I were allergic to!

    1. The globe artichoke is really just a thistle - I haven't come across any poisonous ones yet in my research.

  4. That looks delicious. I'll never dismiss thistles as just weeds from now on.

  5. There should be some at Milas market tomorrow.