Define: Cardoon

Cardoon

Cardoon

Apparently Mario Batali loves this obscure member of the thistle family and says it has a “very sexy flavor.” That makes me a little uncomfortable.

Uncomfortable

Uncomfortable

But now I want to know what it is and what you do with it.

Apparently the cardoon is closely related to the artichoke but is much more difficult to find in the States. The stalks resemble celery and it has a large purple flower which is also edible.

Cardoon stalks

Cardoon stalks

Fun fact: Cardoons are also an excellent source of vegetarian rennet used in cheese production. The non-vegetarian equivalent are enzymes produced in mammalian stomachs. Ack. I’ll take the cardoon cheese, please.

2 thoughts on “Define: Cardoon

  1. I LOVE Cardoon!
    I had finally found seeds for this delicious plant.
    More meat per plant than an artichoke and so much better.

    I just boil with garlic, but here are a few recipes I had found in my search for these elusive seeds.

    Here is a link to one, and below this is a recipe from another.
    http://memoriediangelina.blogspot.com/2009/11/cardi-gratinati.html

    Cardoons, Ancient Roman Style This is an adaptation from a 2,000-year-old recipe for cardoons I found in a translation of the Roman gourmand Apicius from the book A Taste of Ancient Rome. Romans ate a great deal of cardoons and artichokes, although it is believed that the cardoons they ate were wild, not the cultivated kind in my garden. It’s basically a boiled cardoon with an unusual herb sauce, spiked with honey and Vietnamese fish sauce, which is the closest thing to Roman garum I can think of. Oh, and yes you need lovage and rue — or at least one of them — as these herbs play a major role in Ancient Roman cuisine. Serves 2 (and can be doubled)
    • 1/2 pound cardoon stalks
    • 1 lemon
    • 2 garlic cloves
    • 1 tablespoon minced lovage leaves
    • 1 tablespoon minced cilantro or parsley leaves
    • 1 tablespoon minced fennel fronds
    • 1 tablespoon minced mint leaves
    • 1 teaspoon minced rue leaves
    • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
    • 1/2 teaspoon red wine vinegar
    • 1 teaspoon honey
    • 1/2 cup olive oil
    • Black pepper to taste
    • Grated hard cheese, such as parmesan, pecorino or Greek mizithra.
    Trim the cardoon stalks and peel the strings from them by peeling from the outside edge of the stalk. Cut the stalks into 4-5 inch lengths and submerge in ice water with the juice of one-half a lemon in it. Bring a large pot of salty water to a boil. The water should taste like the sea. When the water boils, add the juice of the other half of the lemon, toss the lemon in the water and boil the cardoon stalks for 20-30 minutes, or until tender.
    4. Meanwhile, make the sauce. In a mortar, combine the garlic and all the herbs and pound into a paste.
    5. Add the black pepper, honey, vinegar and the fish sauce and pound some more to combine.
    6. Add the oil a little at a time, pounding and mashing and mixing all the way. Taste it. The sauce should be powerfully herby, and a little sweet-and-sour. If it needs salt, add some.
    7. Pour some sauce on a plate and top with the cardoons. Sprinkle a little grated cheese on top and serve at once.

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