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Thistle: how to cook with the best recipes, properties and nutritional values. Baked cardoons, parmesan cardoons, Apulian recipes and tips
The thistle is a plant native to our areas and the Central-Southern regions of the Mediterranean. Thewild thistleit is a very robust perennial plant, which can reach a height of 150 cm. The thistle is a relative of the artichoke and just like this plant, it sees multi-year cultivation cycles: it is planted once and harvested for several years in a row. Of the thistle, in the kitchen, the youngest petioles are used. If you intend to grow thistle, I invite you to read my article "thistle, plant and cultivation". If you want to know instead how to cook thistle with excellent recipes, you are on the right page! First, however, let's take a look at theproperty.
Thistle, properties and nutritional values
Thistle is extremely low in calories: it provides 17 calories per 100 grams of product. For 100 grams of product, the thistle provides:
- Carbohydrates: 4.07 g
- Fat: 0.1 g
- Proteins: 0.7
As far as vitamins and mineral salts are concerned, thistle boasts of providing various B vitamins (Thiamine or Vitamin B1, Riboflavin or Vitamin B2, Niacin or Vitamin B3, Pantothenic Acid or Vitamin B5, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B9), vitamin C and minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, zinc and sodium.
Thistle, how to cook it and how to clean it
Not everyone knows but… thethistleis the main ingredient of an ancient Abruzzo dish: cardone soup, a dish based on thistle and chicken or hen broth! In various areas of Italy ithistlesthey are also consumed in combination with seafood. In Portugal, a good cheese is also produced with thistle.
The real difficulty is not so muchhow to cook thistlesbut how to clean them. How do you clean the thistle? Remove the side leaves and remove the filamentous leaves (as you would with celery), take only the inner part of the ribs!
While you clean the thistles, wet them with lemon juice as the thistle tends to blacken and the lemon slows the process.
In Piedmont, the most tender little ones are served raw while flans, soups and boiled meats can be prepared with the coasts.
Let's start with a very tasty recipe: ibaked au gratin cardoonswith bechamel. Here are the ingredients you need:
- 1 kg of thistles
- 3 tablespoons of breadcrumbs
- 40 gr of grated Parmesan
- Salt and butter as required
- Bechamel for pleasure
Clean the thistles by removing the filaments, cut into pieces about 15 - 20 cm long. Boil the thistles in hot salted water for 15 minutes, at the end of cooking the thistles must be well cooked but still firm.
Drain the thistles, let them dry well.
Meanwhile, butter an ovenproof dish and line it with breadcrumbs. To have more layers, the dish should not be larger than 20 × 30 cm.
Start placing the first layer of boiled thistles on the bottom, add the cheese and a couple of tablespoons of bechamel. Continue like this until all the thistles are finished. Finish with a generous layer of breadcrumbs.
Bake in the oven (already hot) for 30 minutes at 200 ° C.
For aApulian recipe with thistles, I point out the fried thistles. It is certainly not onelight recipelike the previous one, but in fact it gives great satisfaction to the palate. Here's what you need to prepare this Apulian recipe of fried thistles.
- 500 gr of already cleaned thistles
- 200 gr of flour
- 150 ml of sparkling water
- 1 tablespoon of beer
- salt and pepper
- fry oil
All you have to do is make a batter. At this stage it is important to use cold water, indeed, it is better that all the ingredients are taken from the refrigerator only at the time of use.
Before preparing the thistles, soak them in warm water for a couple of hours. If the thistles are very hard, you can blanch them for a few minutes before frying even if, for the fried thistles in batter, the most tender and well-worn ribs should be used.
Make the batter with water, beer, salt, pepper, and flour. Sink each thistle into the batter and fry it in hot oil. The thistle must be completely submerged in the oil and must only be removed when the batter is completely browned.
Dry the fried thistles on absorbent paper and serve them still warm. This recipe is used as a typical Apulian appetizer or side dish.
Cardoons cooked in the Parmigiana style
You can also fry the cardoons individually and use them to make a parmigiana, just like you would for ordinary aubergines!
In the photo above, the recipe for baked thistles.