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The Silver Spoon, Phaidon Press

A member of the globe artichoke family, cardoons are tiresome to clean and take a long time to cook. Even in Italy, they are not as popular as they deserve to be, as is confirmed by the patient gourmets who wait every year for the return of winter, the only season when these delicate vegetables can be found. They are an extremely rare treat outside southern Europe.

Cardoons are not so much appreciated for their nutritional value (they are rich in cellulose) as for their delicate, unexpected flavor, which is reminiscent of globe artichokes. Good-quality cardoons have white stems with pale green tints. If they are not fresh, they have a slightly reddish color.

To prepare them, remove the tough, outer stems until you reach the tender inner ones. Remove the tips, cut the stems into 2-3-inch longpieces and place in water acidulated with lemon juice to prevent them from turning black. The woody covering of the heart should also he removed before chopping.

Allow about 5 ounces per serving.

Almost all recipes involve pre-cooking cardoons in salted, boiling water for over 2 hours.



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