I know, it looks like celery but it's not. Look again, it's that time of year again! Cardoon! I got some in my CSA box Thursday and jumped at the chance to cook it up. Last night I was making dinner for Larry Mindel, owner of Il Fornaio and Poggio, and thought who better to appreciate cardoon. So I did an vegetable antipasti with grilled asparagus and baby spring onions, pickled turnips and carrots, a yummy salami made by my chef pal, Bruce Hill, and cardoon a la grecque.
Cardoon can be found growning wild in the Mediterranean and California this time of year. They look like huge stalks of celery, almost an overgrown thistle reaching upwards of six feet with an artichoke-like flower at the top! Though they aren't in the same family as the artichoke, ironically, that's what they taste like.
Cardoon takes a bit of work but to me, its worth it. Trim the leaves and cut the stalks into maneagable 3 to 4-inch pieces. Peel the outer tough stings and immediately place the cardoon in a bowl of acidulated water. That's just cold water with the juice of lemon. Now you're ready to cook them.
CARDOON A LA GRECQUE
5 stalks cardoon
1 1/2 cups olive oil
3/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 cup dry white wine
12 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 small onion, thinly slced
1 lemon, thinly sliced
3 bay leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons salt black pepper
Prep the cardoons as above and set aside in a bowl of acidualted water.
Place the remaining ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the ehat and simmer 10 minutes. Add the cardoon and cook until tender, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove the cardoon and discard the other solids. Place the cardoon back in the liquid and store in the refrigerator overnight.
To serve, drain the cardoon and bring to room temperature.
Serves 6 happy cardoon lovers
4 cardoon stocks, prepped as above
1 cup all- purpose flour
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 eggs, whisked together
2 cups Japanese breadcrumbs or panko
Canola oil for deep frying
Homemade garlic mayonnaise
Drain the cardoon.
Place the flour in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Place the eggs in a second bowl and season with salt and pepper. Repeat with the panko in a third bowl.
Dredge the cardoon in flour tapping off the excess. Next place the cardoon in the egg and finally in the breadcrumbs. Set aside.Place the oil in a deep heavy pan and heat to 360 degrees F. Fry the cardoon until golden. Place on paper twoels to drain. Sprinkle with fleur de sel and serve immediately with garlic mayonnaise.