We're pretty big fans of artichokes here at HuffPost Taste. Besides the fact that they're enormous flowers we get to eat, they're insanely delicious. And so when we came across cardoon, a relative of the artichoke, we were ecstatic. That's double the amount of artichoke-taste we get to have in our lives. For those of you who were like us and did not know about cardoon until very recently (or right now), you're about to embark on a very delicious adventure.
Cardoon is a member of the thistle family, just like artichoke. Its thistle flowers are smaller than the artichoke's, only that doesn't matter because with cardoon you eat the stalk not the flower. (This means each plant gives you a lot more to eat.)
Here's the kicker though: the cardoon is harder to prepare than artichokes. We don't want to dissuade you from giving them a try -- we all know nothing good in life comes easy -- but we want you to know what you're getting yourself into. You have to work for cardoon, and it's worth it.
If left to its own devices, cardoon stalks are fibrous, bitter and entirely inedible. Their delicate artichoke flavor requires a little coaxing, much like our beloved rhubarb. But when prepared with care, you'll be rewarded with a delicate texture and that lovely artichoke flavor.
This is how it's done: Peel the fibrous stalks (carefully because they do prick), place in a bowl of cold water with lemon in order to prevent browning, parboil the stalks (for about 20-40 minutes depending on their size) and then cook them in your recipe of choice.
It's important to not skimp on the parboiling because it tenderizes the stalks and washes away the bitter flavor. Another important tip: you'll want to peel the stalks when they're fresh -- the firmer they are, the easier this arduous task will be.
Now go find yourself some cardoon and make this cardoon gratin recipe.
Can't find cardoon? Then settle for artichoke.