It was long due but it’s finally here, the first recipe of what will be a whole collection of vegan recipes from all around the world.
The first recipe, thistle with garlic sofrito, is typical of La Rioja and Navarra (northern Spain – Basque Country), and I was able to taste it when I started my cycling trip. The couple who hosted us, vegans as well, cooked this for us.
I didn’t remember till I was tasting it that I had already eaten this before. When I started university I shared a flat with people from La Rioja, but at that time I thought that eating thistle was so strange that probably it was only typical in their families.
Well, it turns out that it’s much more common than I thought at first, and even if it sounds a bit strange thing to try, it’s worth as well as easy to prepare in a tasty way.
You can get the thistle fresh and clean it. It’s really hard work because the plant is so thick and you should carefully get rid of the outside layer with a scouring pad. I’ve never tried it but I heard it takes hours to prepare. So there are two alternatives:
1 – You have a grandmother at the countryside who has been doing this her whole life and gives it to you in jar.
2 – You buy they clean bottled thistle from the few companies who sell it.
We were lucky not to have to clean and just enjoy it!
Lemon juice (optional)
White wine (optional)
Preparation of the thistle
When preparing fresh thistle only the softer parts of the stem are used, so it has to be cleaned very carefully (sometimes using a scouring pad or even a vegetable peeler). Once it’s cleaned the stems should be cut in medium size pieces and put into boiling water.
Before adding it to the pot it’s better to add some salt, flour and lemon juice (these last two for the thistle not to turn black).
Once the thistle is soft remove from the water, drain and set aside for later.
Preparation of the sofrito
Put olive oil in nonstick pan and fry the garlic shortly at low temperature. Once the garlic starts getting a golden color add flour and stir fast till it’s mixed evenly.
Add the thistle to the pan, water and white wine. Stir carefully till everything is mixed and let boil uncovered till the liquid evaporates and we have a smooth sauce.
Sprinkle parsley on top before serving for an even better taste!