Cooking with Cardoon
greenish-ivory celery stalks with prickly leaves, cardoon (sometimes called cardone or cardi) is popular in Mediterranean countries including France, Spain and especially Italy. This vegetable has the subtle, sweet flavor of artichokes and celery with a hint of bitterness that fades away after cooking. In season fall through late winter, cardoon is especially popular around Christmastime. Cardoon is prepared in a similar manner to its cousin, the artichoke.
How to Prepare
Cardoon will discolor and turn grey when its cut surface is exposed to air. To prevent this, prepare a bowl of acidulated water (squeeze the juice from two (2) lemons into a large bowl of cold water). Separate stalks, discarding the woody outer ones or any portion with hollow centers. Remove and discard leaves from stalks. Using a vegetable peeler, remove the tough outer strings from the cardoon then add to lemon-water.
Heat a large, covered saucepot filled halfway with salted water to boiling. Drain cardoon from
lemon-water and add to boiling water. Return water to boiling then cook cardoon about 20 minutes or until tender; drain. Stalks will turn lighter in color after they’ve been cooked.
After cardoons are precooked, pat them dry. Now they are ready for your favorite preparation method …
- Sauté briefly in a touch of olive oil and sprinkle with shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano.
- Toss with herbs and serve chilled, marinated in a mixture of vinegar and extra virgin olive oil.
- Purée them into a soup or stir them into whole-grain pasta or risotto with zucchini, garlic and lemon zest.
- Cardoon can be enjoyed raw, but serve only the tender, less-bitter inner stalks.