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28 responses to “Contemplating Cardoons”

  1. denise

    hello! where did you get your plants? how many for 2 people? i love cardoon. italian family…what can i say?

  2. Buzzie

    Ours are about 1 inch high – maybe we’ll actually eat them this year instead of just watching them grow with awe.
    PS Easily grown from seed.

  3. Sylvie, Rappahannock Cook & Kitchen Gardener

    I do blanch my cardoons in the garden for about 30 days. So I don’t have to boil them for 30 minutes..Just peeled, trimmed and straight into heavy cream. Cover with bread crumbs. Bake. (see… no bechamel!)

    I have learn to harvest them before frost (and they truly don’t like frost), so September & October are cardoon eating months in the Northern Piedmont. For the few of us who grow them.

    This year, I will see if I can overwinter them in the polytunnel. They did not survive last winter (admittedly very cold)

    Thanks for the other suggestions. Will resurrect them in September…

  4. Andrea

    Loch sloy! from a fellow Scot. Thanks for teaching me about cardoons. I have been curious about them and this is a great primer.

    It was fun to see the story about “our Hank” in the Bee.

  5. What The Heck Is A Cardoon? « Upper Meadows Farm

    […] I also have to say I like this blogger’s simple idea for rolling the trimmed cardoons in chickpea flour before frying. And if you have a fondue pot left over from that 1970s food craze, you can […]

  6. carol Leitch

    I’ve only been growing my cardoon for 3 years after getting a cutting from a friend ,this year it has grown to over 6′ in height and has 9 thisle heads its amazing and is a great conversational piece when anyone comes to visit I have never tried to eat it but this year I may try

  7. Brenda

    I need a little Cardoon help… I cut about a dozen leaves last week and carefully trimmed them, pulled the strings, soaked them in acidulated water, and boiled them for 30 minuted in salted water. I made the honeyed cardoons with pine nuts and thyme — and it was awful! Tough, bitter and… uhm… gave my husband some intestinal distress.

    The plants are young and the leaves I picked were about 1 to 2 feet long. Did I pick them too early without blanching the plants? Should I not have picked leaves and instead harvested the entire plant and only used interior leaves?

    Help! I’m crushed by a cardoon.

  8. hank

    Brenda: Dunno exactly what happened, although the first thing that springs to mind is that you are eating cardoons in the summer, when they are at their toughest and most bitter.

    In California, I cut my cardoons down after they flower in summer and then water the hell out of them so they come up again by Thanksgiving. I eat them in winter, then cut them again, and I get a second crop in March-April. Unless you are in a very cool area, summer cardoons would indeed be really bitter. Where are you located?

  9. Brenda

    Thanks for the speedy response. I’m zone 6b and don’t have the luxury of cutting my cardoons back. Last year I was so enamored with them I never got around to eating them before a freeze came and knocked ’em down. They didn’t come back either. So I planted 6 new plants and they are just as lovely. But I was not aware one should not eat them in the summer.

    I have a long line of Italian friends who are drooling over the prospect of cardoni and I thought I would get a jump on things and start trying out recipes now. I plan(ned) on having them all over for a cardoni buffet — if I can convince my poor husband to ever eat it again.

    Should I plan on wrapping my plants in the early fall to blanch them ?

    Hmmmm…. I’ m thinking about cardoons with chestnuts… wonder how that might taste?

  10. Sahara in SF

    I’m thinking of this dish for Christmas! Wanted to tell you that most pine nuts are from China these days and are flavorless (not to mention, they are from China . . . .) I found those hard to find Italian pine nuts on – they are wonderful. My holiday dinner this year: roasted goose, ravioli w/marinara, your cardoon recipe. Can’t wait! Thank you!

  11. Sherri

    Hi, here is how Persians cook cardoon. This is a recipe from a cook book called “New food of Life” by Najmieh Batmangelij.
    Cardoon Khoresh
    Makes 6 servings
    Preparation time: 35 minutes
    Cooking time: 2 hours
    Khoresh-e kangar
    1 pound fresh cardoon stalks
    1 teaspoon vinegar
    2 large onions, peeled and thinly
    1 pound stew meat, (lamb, veal, or
    beef), cut into 1-inch cubes, or 2
    pounds veal shank, or 2 pounds
    chicken legs, cut up
    1/3 cup oil
    1 teaspoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon freshly ground
    black pepper
    1/4 teaspoon turmeric
    3 cups chopped fresh parsley
    1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
    4 tablespoons fresh lime juice or 1/2
    cup sour grape juice (ab ghureh)
    1/4 teaspoon ground saffron, dissolved
    in 1 tablespoon hot water
    1. Carefully remove and discard prickly parts of cardoon stalks after removing
    leafy heads. Be sure to remove strings by lifting them with the tip of a knife and
    peeling them off. Cut into pieces 2 inches long. To prevent them from discoloring
    and to keep them tender, soak peeled cardoon pieces in a bowl of water with a
    splash of vinegar until ready to use.
    2. In a Dutch oven, brown onions and meat or chicken in 3 tablespoons oil. Add
    salt, pepper, and turmeric. Pour in water-2 cups for meat, 11/2 cups for chicken.
    Cover and simmer over low heat for about 55 minutes for meat or 30 minutes for
    chicken, stirring occasionally.
    3. Drain the cardoon. In a skillet, saute the cardoon pieces in the remaining oil. Add parsley and mint and fry for 10 minutes longer.
    4. When the meat is done, add lime juice, saffron water, and the cardoon. Cover
    and simmer for 1 hour over low heat.
    5. Check to see if the cardoons are tender. Taste the khoresh and
    adjust seasoning.
    6. Serve hot with chelow, saffron-steamed rice.

    I make a different version of this dish by replacing the parsley and mint with sun-dried tomatoes; keeping everything else the same. Both recipes are delicious!

  12. Vegetable Garden Cook

    Very interesting. I’ll have to try it next year. I just attempted growing and cooking cardoon and thought it was challenging.

  13. Pantasilia

    I have had cardoons as structural plants in the border for years and ate the thistle heads – before they opened – as they are just like artichokes and as delicious because I didn’t want them to see all over the bed. This year I moved some to another part of the garden and now, in November, they are about four feet high and I thought I’d try the stalks. Great to have all these recipes so now I’d better go and start preparing them. I think, to start, I’ll do the cheese one. But I can really recommend the artichoke part. Not as large a heart as normal artichokes but fun as a starter with good conversation,as you pull off and suck the petals with melted butter, pepper and lemon juice….

  14. Diane

    I’d never heard of cardoons until I saw the seeds at Baker Creek. Since artichokes are my favorite all time veggie I’m gonna have to try ’em. Thanks to Pantasilla for the tip on eating the thistle heads!

  15. Mara Grey

    Very nice article! I’d like to speak up for the cardoon buds, however. I steam them, cut them in half and eat the small hearts. They remind me of the artichoke heart omelet I had in Florence and, in my opinion, have more flavor than regular artichoke hearts.

  16. Robert Senn

    I took over a garden plot in our local community garden and the previous gardener had planted one. This year was the first year it bloomed,no one knew what it was till it produced the artichoke looking flowers. I finally discovered what it was when I was looking in a Sow True Seed seed catalog and spotted it. Know that I know what it is and how to use it,Im going to see if it will sell at our local farmers market here in Jonesborough, TN .

  17. WTF: What’s that Food? Cardoons! - Everyday Food Blog -

    […] Moroccan cuisines, cardoon dishes did appear in colonial American kitchens. If you’re looking for cardoons, check your local farmers’ market when they’re in season in your area. Though they’re not […]

  18. Cynara cardunculus (Cardi, Cardo, Cardone, Cardoni or Cardoon) « Firenze Mom

    […] I was finished dinner and decided to search the web, I found these great recipes on this site. Hunter Angler Gardner Cook: Finding the forgotten feast /Contemplating Cardoons He has a Honeyed Cardoons with Pine Nuts and Thyme recipe.    Next time I will will be trying […]

  19. Preparing for summer | Lady Justine's Blog

    […] many cardoon recipes, but here are a couple. One is a Tunisian lamb casserole and this one for honeyed cardoons with pine nuts and thyme, which sounds rather Greek if you ask […]

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  21. Rappahannock Cook & Kitchen Gardener » On Cardoon

    […] more recipe ideas,  check out Saveur Magazine or Hunter Angler Gardener (check the comment section too for  additional recipes and […]

  22. giampaolo

    to grow the cardoons in winter, that to become bitter-sweet(blanch them) you need to cover the plant rolled with some straw and newspapers. When they are hit by the first or second frost, they get ready to be cut and prepared to be eaten. My dad used to cultivate a lot of them and he was protecting them in this way. They are a good substitute for eggplants for a “Parmigiana” or steamed and sauteed with bacon or pancetta. I have just seen a “Ghiotta”(gluttony) recipe that involves a preparation similar to parmigiana but with a layer done with “milanese” style veal…. probably I will try it….

  23. lisa

    I just bought a cardoon plant about 8 inches tall. Thanks for the info and I will give it a try. Up here in the San Juan Islands so I hope the weather is warm enough!

  24. culinarykitten

    I came across this lovely article just in time. Being a newbie to cardoons, I only just recently learned that I need to harvest the stalks instead of waiting for it to flower like an artichoke! The gratin has my name on it, as does the bagna cauda. I will also give your honey/thyme/pine nut recipe, because let’s just say I’ve got an awful lot of cardoon to work with.

  25. Geoff

    We live in South West England and I have about three Cardoon plants on my allotment. They are now (mid June ) about 7 feet high and each one has about 4 or 5 small ‘buds’ just opening. I have heard that you can eat these in a similar way to Artichokes…has anybody got a tried and tested recipe? This will be our first year to try and eat the stalks too.

  26. Bolster zaadjes | Ons Toentje

    […] de vlakbladige kruisdistel en de Kardoen krijgen hier een plekje. De laatste is trouwens eetbaar. #win Ook de Grote kaardebol, Rode zonnehoed en gemengde lupines komen hier. En een nog aan te […]

  27. sharon

    In tunisia they make a great couscous with Cardoon as the main vegetable in the dish. We just had this for dinner with my first crop of Cardoon.

  28. Hank Shaw

    Sharon: Nice! What’s the general recipe?

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