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Thistle with Almonds, a Christmas meal you may not know about

Christmas is approaching, and many people are considering what food to prepare for these special days to surprise and make their guests happy. And sometimes we are grateful for some ideas to cook a different healthy dish.

This week when I saw thistle at the food market, it reminded me that Christmas is already here and that it might be a good idea to show you this very different Christmas speciality. This vegan stew, made with thistle, almonds and other vegetables from the garden, is typical in many parts of Spain, especially in Aragon, Rioja and Navarra.

The thistle is a plant very similar to the artichoke plant, and its flavour is very similar and rich in vitamins and minerals. We can find them fresh in the market or buy them already cooked and canned.
It is a food indicated for diabetics and generally for those who do not tolerate starchy foods well. It favours liver function and digestion. And its fibre content helps to control constipation and cholesterol. In short, it is the perfect food to compensate for the Christmas excesses.

Now that you know more about this vegetable let's get into the kitchen.

Thistle with Almonds, "Cardo con Almendras" recipe

  • Preparation time 15 minutes
  • Cooking time 45 minutes
  • Total time 60 minutes

Ingredients (4 serves)

For cooking the thistle

  • 1 kg / 2,2 lb / 35 oz thistle (cleaned 700 g)
  • Plenty of water to boil
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • A sprig of parsley
  • A bay leaf
  • Salt to taste

For the sauce

  • 100 g / 0,2 lb / 3,5 oz leeks
  • 100 g / 0,2 lb / 3,5 oz onions
  • Three cloves of garlic
  • 80 g / 0,17 lb / 2,8 oz raw peeled almonds
  • 100 g / 0,2 lb / 3,5 oz ground almonds
  • 1 cup / 240 ml almond milk
  • 1 cup / 240 ml stock from cooking the thistle
  • 2 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • Few leaves chopped of parsley
  • 1/4 cup / 60 ml  Extra virgin Olive oil  

Method

We start by preparing the thistle for cooking. This vegetable needs to be cleaned well, as it is covered with a small, bitter white skin and some fibre threads that must be removed before cooking.

  1. Remove the small lateral spikes from the stalk with a knife or a peeler. Then with a scouring sponge or brush and cold water, wash the thistle stalks well and remove the fibres with a little knife. Taking time with this step is essential, as the fibres are unpleasant to the palate.
  2. Once you have removed all the fibre strands, cut the thistle stalks into approximately bite-size pieces and keep them momentarily in cold water, lemon and parsley to prevent them from losing their green colour.
  3. Bring plenty of water to a boil and blanch the thistle for a couple of minutes for the first time. Drain them and pour new water into your pot. This time with salt, the juice of half a lemon, a bunch of parsley and the bay leaf.
  4. When the water comes to a boil, add the thistle and cook it for about 15 minutes. Make sure the thistle is tender. Remove it from the heat and keep it in the cooking water while making the sauce.

For the stew

  1. Pour the olive oil into a pot and place it over medium heat. Add the raw almonds, browned on both sides. Remove them from the pot and let them rest on kitchen paper.
  2. Add the chopped garlic to the pot with the same oil as the almonds. When it starts to brown, add the leek and the onion in brunoise and cook it for about 10 minutes.

  1. When it starts to colour, add the ground almonds and continue cooking for another 5 minutes.
  2. At this point, add the vegetable stock and the almond milk.

  1. Add salt, pepper and nutmeg and cook for another 10 minutes.

  1. Finally, after this time, drain the thistle from the water and add it to the preparation. Add a little chopped parsley and toasted almonds, and cook for another 5 minutes.

  1. Decorate your stew with some parsley leaves and toasted almonds. As I have done, I recommend presenting the elaboration in the pot or a soup bowl and serving each dish individually at the table.

If you want to give it a carnivorous touch, you can also sauté some strips of Iberian ham or bacon. Although it is not included in the original recipe, it gives it an interesting touch.

I hope you enjoyed this delicious, healthy and easy-to-make Christmas dish.

Have a Tasty Day!

4 Ratings | Rating: 4.8 out of 5
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