The strange looking cardoon has a wonderful taste, which belies its bizarre appearance. It can be very stringy, so needs careful preparation before cooking. It is one of those vegetables which improves in flavor after the frost has got to it and, like its cousin the artichoke, it tends to discolor very quickly.

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Ingredients

  • 2 lemons, quartered
  • lb cardoons
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1⅓ cups freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

  1. Fill a large bowl with cold water and squeeze the juice of a lemon quarter into it. Place the quartered lemons into the water. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Remove all the leaves from the cardoons and strip away all the fibrous strings that run through the length of each stick with a sharp knife.
  3. Cut the sticks into 2 in sections and drop them into the bowl of cold water.
  4. When all the cardoons are prepared, bring a large pan of salted water to a boil. Drain the cardoons and drop them into the pan of boiling water. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes until just tender, then drain again.
  5. Grease an ovenproof dish large enough to hold all the cardoons in a single, overlapping layer.
  6. Sprinkle the cardoons with the remaining olive oil, cover generously with the Parmigiano Reggiano and place in the oven to heat through and melt the cheese. Serve hot.

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