My family recipe for Risotto ai cardi – Italian vegetarian rice with wild thistle

Thistle is a very healthy vegetable and grows wild in Sardinia where I recently went to spend Christmas holidays with my family. Thistles are often sold on the streets by people who like going to the countryside for walks and find them in abundance everywhere and anytime especially in Winter (over Christmas). Risotto is usually great with all vegetables but Risotto ai cardi in particular is one of my favourite with its delicate and creamy flavour. I remember my mum making lots of dishes with thistle when I was living at home. Its smell brings back lots of lovely and nostalgic memory. I hope you will enjoy this dish as much as my family and I do. Rice with wild thistle is a Winter recipe and particularly suitable for coeliac, vegetarian and vegan people.

risotto ai cardi My family recipe for Risotto ai cardi aka Italian vegetarian rice with wild thistle

Ingredients

Rice – Carnaroli or Arborio types would be ideal 350g
Garlic – 1 clove
Vegetable broth 1l
Wild Thistle (in Italian Cardi) 400g
Parmesan cheese or Taleggio 150g
Extra vergin olive oil
Salt and Pepper (as you wish)
White wine for cooking (no need to use too expensive type of wine as this is only used to cook the risotto and make it more tasteful) 1 glass

thistle flower cardi risotto recipe

The thistle flower is gorgeous – For the risotto you use the plant not the flower

 

Method

Preparation time: 60 minutes

Before starting, you need to clean the thistle in the same way you would do with celery. They look a bit similar but thistle is darker and hairier.

If you have it, I would recommend cooking the risotto in a paella flat pot.

Start preparing the so called ‘soffritto’ which is a mix of crushed garlic in olive oil until slightly brown.

Then add the thistle cut in pieces, salt and pepper and a small cup of vegetable broth.

Let is cook for approximately 30 minutes as the thistle is quite hard or until the veggies are soft (but not too much).

Add the rice to the mix and water until the rice is toasted and cooked.

From time to time add some wine and let it evaporate until the rice is edible. You need to keep stirring to avoid burning the mix.
When it’s cooked add grated Parmesan cheese or Taleggio in cubes and mix vigorously for a minute or so.

Then let the risotto rest for a couple of more minutes and serve hot.

It seems harder than it actually is. Don’t be afraid to try it. You will love it.

thistle plant cardi risotto recipe

The thistle plant can be found in the wild in Southern Europe

Lots of people in Italy eat it over the Christmas period in between the big traditional meals as rice with wild thistle is a lighter dish.

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