Cardoon Gratin in Saveur.What in the… is a cardoon?
“The cardoon (Cynara cardunculus), also called the artichoke thistle, cardone, cardoni, carduni or cardi, is a thistle-like plant which is member of the Aster family, Asteraceae; (or archaic: Daisy family, Compositae). It is a naturally occurring variant of the same species as the Globe artichoke, and has many cultivated varieties. It is native to the Mediterranean, where it was domesticated in ancient times… While the flower buds can be eaten much as the artichoke, more often the stems are eaten after being braised in cooking liquid. Battered and fried, the stems are also traditionally served at St. Joseph’s altars in New Orleans.
The stalks, which look like large celery stalks, can be served steamed or braised. They have an artichoke-like flavor. Cardoons are available in the market only in the winter months. In the U.S.A., it is rarely found in stores, but available in farmers’ markets, where it is available through May, June, and July. The main root can also be boiled and served cold. Acclaimed chef Mario Batali calls the cardoon one of his favorite vegetables and says they have a “very sexy flavor.”
Cardoons are also an ingredient in one of the national dishes of Spain, the Cocido madrileño, a slow-cooking, one-pot, meat and vegetable dinner simmered in broth.
In the Abruzzi region of Italy, Christmas lunch is traditionally started with a soup of cardoons cooked in chicken broth with little meatballs (lamb or more rarely, beef), sometimes with the further addition of egg (which scrambles in the hot soup – called stracciatella) or fried chopped liver and heart.” – Wikipedia