Cardoon – beautiful thistle with attitude

2014-02-03 11.33.562014-03-18 11.19.552014-03-18 13.03.202014-03-18 13.02.19

Pic 1: cardoon growing , Pic 2 harvested and lying on my kitchen table, Pic 3 Leaves and flowers removed and getting the woody strings off (put the stems in water with lemons squeezed in), Pic 4 boiling the cardoons with lemons

I harvested my first cardoon a few weeks ago my second cardoon yesterday. Β The first one was made in to a successful dish, but the second was a disaster, fairly bitter and very stringy even though I spent the better part of the morning peeling the stalks and boiling them. Boiling for an hour tenderises the stalks and draws out the bitterness, but in this case it was not quite successful. As you can see from the pictures, a lot of work goes into preparing the cardoon before one can make up the dish for the table. I covered the boiled and cleaned cardoon in bechamel and sprinkled cheese and bread crumbles over the top then baked it in the oven until bubbly and crispy on top. Β The taste was OK and the sauce and topping terrific but no one was very impressed and No second helpings! Someone wrote that one can only expect a good harvest after the 3rd year, saying that their cardoon grows to 2 meters high. Mine were planted this year and were about 1 and n half meter high when I cut them down. The first plant has regrown. We did boil the small buds like we do with artichokes and ate the soft parts of the leaves and the hearts and that was very nice.

I have to think about this vegetable and research it more – I am determined to make a successful dish when I harvest the third plant. Advice anyone ?

8 thoughts on “Cardoon – beautiful thistle with attitude

    • I am still not happy with my recipies for cardoon – I read the Clarissa Dickson Wright who died a few days ago – loved cooking cardoons but I can not find any of her recipes on the net. When I hit the jackpot I will let you know πŸ˜‰

      • Just went for a bit of a hunt and you are right… not much out there in the cardoon direction. Maybe that means that there is an opening for a cardoon book to be written by someone? πŸ˜‰

        • I think it is a very interesting plant with lots of possibilities. Grows wild in many parts of Italy and is highly regarded. My plants that I harvested by cutting them off about 100 mm above ground are all re-growing very strongly. The next batch I think I shall harvest when younger as the previous ones were a bit fibrous.

          • Where did you buy your plants/roots (however they grow) from? I wonder if I can source seed/plant material here? We are SO isolated! I guess you guys are a bit the same πŸ™‚

            • I am going to check them out. Cheers for the heads up. ANYONE that sends to us is wonderful in my books πŸ™‚ I can’t see cardoons as being something that our customs turns back at the border. I know we can’t import any of the solanum seeds (especially tomatoes and chillis and capsicum) or ginger roots of any kind (no idea why…) but cardoons are probably on the “safe” list (mainly because they probably haven’t heard of them πŸ˜‰ ). Again, cheers for the heads up. I just put the site into my favourites πŸ™‚

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