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Foraged Food: Sweet Chili Thistles Recipe

Ever looked outside and wondered just how much food is available for free?  When you learn how to prepare foraged food you can find healthy and free foods almost anywhere.  And often when you eat your weeds, they have more nutrition, and are available earlier in the year than traditional garden produce.  Once you learn how to correctly identify foods that can be foraged, the next trick is to find delicious ways to prepare them!

I’ve been fascinated by foraged food lately.  I finally got up the courage to actually try a thistle recipe with some thistles that needed to be pulled in my yard.  Thankfully, I was pleasantly surprised by the results especially because I hate vegetables!  I do like artichokes though and thistles are a relative to the artichoke, so I suppose that helps.

With foraged food you can find healthy and free foods almost anywhere.  Here's a yummy sweet chili thistle recipe for a delicious free meal.

Where do I start with foraged food?

If you want to get started with foraged food, get a couple field books from the library and see what grows in your area.   There’s also great resources online for identifying plants.  I like Edible Wild Food, but there are plenty of others!  In order to learn more plants I started by bringing plants home from walks and paying attention to what I am weeding in the garden.  I’ve identified a few things easy things such as dandelions, Queen Anne’s lace, and thistles.

There are not a lot of recipes for thistles out there but I found this recipe from The really WILD Food Guide one and worked off of it.  I’m sure my husband thought I was crazy in the kitchen wearing gloves and cutting spikes off the weeds.  I’m happy to say it was actually delicious.  Plus you get to do some weeding while you gather your thistles.  My kids were very happy to not step in these prickly plants when running around our yard.

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Sweet Chili Thistles Recipe

  • Cut the edges off the leaves with scissors and save the ribs
  • Remove the thorns from the stem with vegetable peeler
  • Blanch ribs and stems
  • Heat chili powder in olive oil
  • Add tomato paste and about 1 cup stock or water
  • Add thistles and simmer until the ribs are soft and the stock reduced
  • Turn off heat and add a glug of honey (the honey makes it super awesome)
  • Serve over rice

Who knew spiky thistles would be so yummy!  Foraging can help cut down food costs and provide nutritious foods at the same time.  I am excited to find such a delicious and easy recipe utilizing a common and easily identified plant.

Go eat your weeds!

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Penniless Parenting

Tuesday 14th of August 2012

What type of thistle did you use? I use milk thistle raw in salads, in place of lettuce.


Wednesday 15th of August 2012

I'm pretty sure it was a bull thistle. I'm still learning how to identify them all. I think I see yellow thistles and bull thistles around here. I'm keeping my eye out for milk thistles though, because don't they taste less bitter?

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