sautéed wild serralha AKA sow thistle

by Heguiberto on March 2, 2010

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Some say serralha is a weed. I don’t agree. To me it’s another yummy bitter green that I love. It’s similar to dandelion in flavor and shape. I haven’t seen it for sale at food stalls and supermarkets in San Francisco for some reason, though it grows wild here. Lately it’s been raining quite a lot which is making the City look green. Sow thistle, like everything else, is doing really well.

steaming hot sauteed serralha

Every winter during the wet season I see them all over. I keep thinking to myself, “I’m going to pick those veggies and bring them home!” But the occasion was never right, that is until last Saturday. Usually the “weed” grows in little patches all over the place. But the other day while walking Clarence I bumped into this perfect patch of serralha quite nearby my house. It was a large bunch all growing together in a single spot. Perfect! I wanted to harvest them right away but the Beast (our English bulldog) would not cooperate. So I dragged Steven back to the spot the next day. Overnight, the plants seemed to have doubled in size! Was that the rain or my imagination?

I remember reading a chapter of Michael Pollan’s book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals, about foraging. He spends some time collecting wild morel and chanterelle mushrooms in Oregon, fennel in Berkley and salt from the Bay Area somewhere near Freemont. He never mentions anything about sow thistle, which are aplenty at this time of year. Maybe Mr. Pollan can take a lesson from me? So here’s my contribution to foraging, eating locally and this delectable green 😉 The plant is totally edible and delicious. It’s harvest time!

lots of fresh serralha


In Brazil we never cultivated serralha ourselves. There, to most people, it’s also seen as a weed. We just relied on nature to take care of it for us. It was fun hunting for it in the woods.

beautiful fresh serralha

The way my mother served it was very simple: she just sautéed it with olive oil, salt and pepper. Sometimes she would use lard, a bit naughty but at least it was organic, from the pigs we raised ourselves. The sautéed serralha was then served with rice and garlicky beans, a fried egg, sunny side up, and a vinegary tomato and onion salad. Sometimes slivers of some hard cheese such as parmesan would complement what to me was already a feast. Traditional food at it’s best!

Sautéed Wild Serralha

1 huge bunch of Serralha or sow thistle (mine was ~ 2 lbs or more)
5 cloves garlic, minced
5 tbsp olive oil
Kosher salt
Black pepper

How to:

Heat olive oil in a deep pan. Add garlic and sauté till fragrant and translucent. Add sow thistle, salt and pepper. Toss it around. Cover pan and let it cook until volume is reduced to less than half. Adjust flavor to your taste with more salt, pepper and/or olive oil. Serve.

serralha with rice, beans, fried egg and tomato salad

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Odete March 4, 2010 at 11:29 am

Some of your posts brings up lots of my childhood’s memories back in MG, and this dish was a feast for me too. For so long I’ve thinking about having the ‘wild’ serralha when walking throughout the parks nearby but never happend to give it a try. Use to buy dandelions, instead. Maybe now…
Congrats for the great Blog.

Heguiberto March 4, 2010 at 11:59 am

Hi Odete,
Thank you for your visit! I am glad my post made you travel through memory lane. It is so good! Many times my travelling happens through food like this one experience spotting and harvesting serralha and cooking it. Just like my childhood in the Sul de Minas Gerais. Congrats on your blog! Great pics and recipes.
Tchau,
Heguiberto

Tom March 7, 2010 at 7:04 am

I’ve gotta start looking around the neighborhood!! Looks great. Love the blog. Thanks!!

Heguiberto March 8, 2010 at 9:32 am

Hi Tom!
Thanks, let us know how it turns out when you finally find them.
Perfect timing now these plants are blooming everywhere!
Cheers,
H

Dora March 21, 2010 at 11:31 am

Nossa Gui,que delicia quando vi este prato.
Realmente senti muita saudade, nem tanto da terrinha
mais sim daquele tempo. A mãe tinha um segredo ,
quando salada ela cortava na salmora e ficava
menos amarga.
bjs
Dora

Heguiberto March 21, 2010 at 1:30 pm

oi Maria,
Os tempos eram bons, inda lembro dos cheiros da cozinha muito alho, assados, couve, limão cravo, almeirão, vinagre, fumaça do fogão à lenha.
Lembro das mãos defumadas da mãe fazendo cafuné na gente depois da maratona de preparar o almoço
Não sabia dessa técnica. Pode deixar que da próxima vez que fizer tentarei dessa forma. bjs,
H

ana October 6, 2011 at 4:06 pm

a onde posso encontrar a serralha para comprar aqui in nj? minha filha tem vitiligo e a serralha cura o vitiligo. por favor gostaria muito de saber a onde comprar.

Heguiberto October 6, 2011 at 9:17 pm

oi Ana,
Obrigado pela sua visita.
Estamos na California e assim como no Brasil aqui elas crescem selvagem. Sugiro que procure mercados de comida Mexicana do Oriente Medio ou farmer’s market aí em New Jersey. Nao sabia que serralha ajudava na cura do vitiligo. Boa sorte para você e sua filha.
Abraços,
Heguiberto

Merriwether June 10, 2012 at 7:12 pm

Great recipe! My mom used to wilt them with bacon grease, too. Another great thing you can do with sow thistle is collect the flower buds before they’ve opened and soak them in pickle juice for 4-6 weeks. The combination of sour and bitter becomes absolutely fantastic. http://www.foragingtexas.com/2009/01/sow-thistle.html
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Heguiberto June 10, 2012 at 8:00 pm

Hi Merriwether,
We just love sow thistle. We are always in the look for a good saute. I collected a bunch of seeds and sowed them in my community garden recently, germination is on its way! I have heard of the pickled buds but never had a chance to taste them I be it is delish. I adore bitter flavors.
Heguiberto

Patricia August 31, 2012 at 7:16 pm

Muito obrigada pelas ideias ! Tambem moro na CA e estou a procura da serralha nos supermercados. Irei pesquisar nos mercados asiaticos e mexicanos. Meu filho mais velho mora no estado de WA e foi diagnosticado com vitiligo. Ele tem 21 anos. Sei que a serralha e um santo remedio.Estou pesquisando se encontro a serralha em algum suplemento natural. Alguem podera ajudar? Muito obrigada!
Pat

Heguiberto September 2, 2012 at 5:44 pm

Oi Patrícia,
Não sabia que a serralha também tinha uso como remédio. Todas a vêzes que comemmos serralha aqui na Califórnia foram colhidas em lotes vazios e terrenos perto da nossa vizinhança. Algumas vezes nasceram em meu jardim comunitário também. Desejo melhora para seu filho. Um abraço,
Heguiberto

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