To Precook Cardoons

Preparation info

  • Makes about

    6 cups

    Appears in

    Vegetables from Amaranth to Zucchini

    By Elizabeth Schneider

    Published 2001

    • About

    Having tried five precooking methods, I vouch for the following, which is simplest and fastest and which produces yielding, juicy, neat non-fibrous pieces, as mild as artichokes. If you have an unusually bitter bunch, you may want to boil it twice, but that is exceptional. I don’t know whether it’s different tastes or different cardoons, but French and Italian cookbooks recommend 2 to 3 hours precooking for this vegetable, while I have found that less than an hour works fine.


    • 1 small bunch (or ½ larger bunch) cardoons (about 2½ pounds)


      1. Trim off cardoon base. Remove all leaves (which are inedibly bitter) and any seriously wilted or damaged outside stalks. Halve remaining stalks crosswise, separate, and wash carefully.
      2. Drop stalks into a huge amount of boiling salted water—as for pasta. Boil gently until tender, usually 15 to 25 minutes. When half-cooked, taste; if too bitter, drain and finish cooking in fresh boiling water. Drain, then cool under running water.
      3. Return to pot and add cold water to cover. Remove a stalk at a time, then zip off very heavy strings with aid of a paring knife, pulling first from one end of the stalk, then from the other. Cut into 1- to 3-inch pieces, as suits the recipe. Pat dry, unless the next step includes liquid.