I have seen Cardone at Somerset farms every year at this time. The other day I noticed a lovely older woman buying a few stalks. So, I had to ask, how do you cook it .. She said just like a veal parmagiano and said it tasted a lot like artichoke. Hmm. .
I found this recipe on Serious Eats and a variation on Lidia's Italy site without the béchamel sauce.
It was lovely. I served it with the apple, parsnip, Arugula buttermilk salad.
- 1 bunch /stack of Cardone (cardoon), 3 to 4 large stalks on each (looks like celery)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 1.2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- A pinch of nutmeg (couple of passes on grater)
- 2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil separated
- 1/4 cup homemade, coarse, dried breadcrumbs
- A handful of fresh parsley leaves
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano, Grana Padano, or Romano
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes (optional)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 400°F and bring 3 to 4 quarts of salted water to a boil in a large pot.
- Fill a large bowl of cold water with 3 glugs of white vinegar
- Working with one stalk at a time, strip the cardoons of leaves and use a sharp paring knife to remove any tough, stringy outer parts. Cut them into 5 inch lengths and then cut the lengths into 2 or 3 strips lengthwise. Add the cardones to the vinegar water, immersing them to stop browning
- Add the cardones to the boiling water. Cook the cardones until they just begin to turn tender, about 5 minutes. Remove the cardones , then lay them on paper towels to drain and cool.
- While the cardones are cooling, make the béchamel. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter until it bubbles slightly. Add the flour at once and stir with a wisk until smooth and bubbling; continue to cook over medium heat, until the mixture turns a pale, brown color, about 2 to 3 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat the milk in in microwave until scalding. Careful, do not boil over. Add the hot milk to the butter mixture, 1/2 a cup at a time, whisking continuously until very smooth. Bring the sauce to a boil and cook gently for about 5 to 6 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and season with salt and nutmeg, and set aside.
- Place the breadcrumbs, 1 tablespoons of olive oil, the parsley leaves, 2 tablespoon of the grated cheese, and the red pepper flakes in a food processor and pulse to chop the parsley and combine the ingredients. Season the breadcrumbs with salt and pepper to taste.
- In a medium baking dish, ~ 5" by 8" add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and brush evenly around the pan to coat it. Dribble 1/3 of the béchamel evenly over the bottom on the dish and add enough of the cardones to cover the bottom of the dish. Generously dribble some of the béchamel over the top of the cardoons and sprinkle evenly with some of the grated cheese. Continue to layer the cardoness, béchamel and grated cheese, finishing the last layer with béchamel and an even coating of the seasoned breadcrumbs.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the entire dish is bubbling, golden and crispy on top.