Smooth Sowthistle Salsa

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Sowthistle is delicious. One of my favourite Springtime greens its texture is similar to little gem lettuces yet it has so much more flavour.

I pull the leaf blades off the leaf-stalk and use those, along with the young tips in most of my sowthistle recipes.

The raw leaf stalk itself is too bitter for my palate, so I use them in cooked sowthistle dishes, where the bitterness dramatically gets reduced.

Its traditional use as an ingredient in spring dishes eaten for vitality is substantiated by high levels of vitamins A, B, C, and K; per 100g fresh weight of various sowthistles contain between 30–60mg of vitamin C; smooth sowthistle contains up to 800mg of vitamin A. 1, 2, 3

Common name: Smooth Sowthistle
Scientific name: Sonchus oleraceus
Family: Asteraceae


  • 2 x garlic cloves
  • 60g sow thistle
  • 100g soaked hazelnuts
  • 15g parsley
  • ¼ teaspoon of sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons of Korean red chilli flakes
  • 4 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 10 cherry tomatoes (chopped)


  1. Soak the hazelnuts in boiling water for 60 minutes. Strain and rinse thoroughly.
  2. Soak the sow thistle in cold water for 60 minutes. Then remove the leaf blades from the larger leafs, discarding the leaf stalks. Don’t bother doing this with the smaller leaves, as their stalks will not have become stringy.
  3. Crush the garlic cloves and allow to sit for 15 minutes. This “triggers an enzyme reaction that boosts the healthy compounds in garlic.” REF
  4. In a food processor add the hazelnuts, shredded sow thistle, parsley, garlic, sea salt, olive oil, red Korean chilli flakes. Then pulse until chopped and mixed up. You want a thick consistency, not runny.
  5. Now chop the tomatoes put in a bowl and spoon out the sow thistle mixture. Fork the tomatoes through the salsa.
  6. Then serve as a sauce with your favourite dish. Traditionally served with grilled meat, but for plant-based folks, I recommend serving with nut loaf, baked tempeh, roast vegetables and/or potatoes etc.

Serves: 4


  1. Cortes Sánchez-Mata de, M. Tardío, J (ed). Mediterranean Wild Edible Plants. Springer. London, 2016.
  2. Kuhnlein, HV, Turner NJ. Traditional Plant Foods of Canadian Indigenous Peoples. Nutrition, Botany and Use. Springer. London, 1991..
  3. Wiersema, JH. León, B. World Economic Plants, second edition. CRC Press. Taylor & Francis Group. Florida, 2013.

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