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.
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.
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.