thistle

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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