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An edible thistle native to the Mediterranean. It"s cultivated for its leaf stalks, which are blanched in banks of earth like celery. They are only seldom found in shops, but if you grow some or come across them, you will have to remove the prickly stalks and roots, as only the inner stalks and hearts are eaten (this might have been done if purchasing from a shop).
They can be eaten raw, with their stings removed, but will need to be dropped into acidulated water to prevent dis-colourisation. If cooking, drop into boiling acidulated water and cook for about 15 minutes - when cool, the strings can be pulled away fairly easily. They can then be finished, by further cooking in the style of celery or fennel - making excellent soup which can be served with grated fresh Parmesan.