Monday, February 8, 2010

The big plants out front that look like artichokes

This is cardoon. Most of us are used to artichokes around here and all over the nation. What do we do with cardoon? You tell me. I know we eat the stalk of the plant leaf and it is much like celery. I know you can removed the strings, or not, for a more rustic attempt at preparing the unique winter vegetable.

Tis the season of cardoon. When spring comes around it will flower in it's second year of life. And from what read about growing this thistle-like plant, it could easily spread and take over if the flowers are left to their own devices. This story had been confirmed by a Geyserville family who informed me that cardoon was growing wild all around their local area.

Up close and personal and from a distance, the plant has a fascinating foliage. Silver and fuzzy, looks nice on display even if not on our cutting boards.

I have reached out a few meager attempts to find recipes and uses for cardoons. Like many vegetables, it seems you can do a variety of vegetable type things with it. Add it to all the other recipes. Mostly, you have to decide how much prep work you want to invest into your cardoon. Long strings are present along the edible stalk and for the best digestibility these ought to be removed.
So I have seen basic blanching and serving, gratins and an especially interesting recipe for a salad where the cardoons were dressed in a honey herb mixture which sounds great to me and I think next week I'll give it a try. My take on this veg is that it is a good option for some winter variety to add a unique texture to some of the greens and roots were are relying upon this time in the season. While we are not actively harvesting and displaying this item for sales, it sits there in the front of the field like an elephant in the field and is certainly available to those who want to give it a try. Just ask! I have seen knowledgable couples come in and do just that, delighted in their discovery of fresh cardoons to add to their home menus.

Yet again a testimony to the diversity that is Tierra Vegetables.

1 comment:

  1. I've had it in gratin and it's very good! And my best friend is suddenly crazy about cardoons since she had some fried ones at a San Francisco restaurant (Serpentine in the Dogpatch area). They were served with aleppo pepper and aoili. She's all excited to put them in her garden and grow them herself now.