Above is the cardoon, complete with ‘ Cardoon Goblin’, in my garden before harvesting.
I could not decide when to pick my cardoon, but following wide consultations, decided to pick it today. I have 2 more mature plants growing so I could have afforded to experiment.
The harvested cardoon on my kitchen table – looking huge!
After cleaning and cooking the cardoon I decided that it was picked too early as the thicker stems, though hard and tough looking, were soft and tasty when cooked. If I left it to grow more there may have been more of the thicker stems, resulting in more to eat.
You need lots of time for a cardoon dish and I did not time myself but it took about half an hour from start to finish in preparation plus cooking time. There are many recipes to choose from and I went for the anchovie sauce which was a great success and enjoyed by four adults, who had it as a side to the main, in no time at all!
Cardoon with Anchovie Sauce
Pre heat the oven to 200 degrees C
1 large cardoon, leaves and stringy bits removed, sliced in 50 mm pieces kept in a bowl of water with the juice of a lemon mixed in. This prevents discoloring.
1 clove garlic, chopped
4 tablespoons butter
10 anchovies – the salty preserved kind, drained and chopped
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano cheese
Bring a large pot of water to the boil. Cook the cardoon pieces for about 30 minutes until tender. In the mean time butter an oven proof dish that will hold all of the cardoon pieces. Melt the rest of the butter in a pan and add the anchovies and garlic and stir gently until the anchovies dissolve. Put the cardoon into the prepared dish, pour the anchovie sauce over and sprinkle with the Parmigiano cheese. Now bake it in the oven for 30 minutes. Serve immediately.