Saturday, July 24, 2010

Cardoons with Bechamel Sauce

Huan from Eat.Read.Live is hosting this edition of Weekend Herb Blogging and this week I've finally come across a most elusive vegetable - Cardoons!

cardoons© by Haalo

Cardoons will never win any prize in a "most beautiful vegetable" competition but with most things, appearance isn't everything. In Italy, they are called Cardi and you'll see them in just about every market and to my eye they always looked like they were on their last legs - Paalo charmingly described them as freaky celery.

They aren't celery but they are a member of the artichoke family and when cooked they do share a similar flavour. While you might be able to find them elsewhere being sold as a whole, these were just a collection of bundled stalks.

While the most well known use of cardoons is in the dish of Bagna Cauda - that is more suited to younger stems which are more tender and less bitter than these older stalks.

I've decided to keep it simple yet traditional and served baked in a Béchamel sauce. There's a bit of prep work involved before you can use them but I've detailed those processes in the recipe below.

Cardoons with Béchamel sauce© by Haalo

Cardoons with Béchamel sauce

Béchamel Sauce
grated parmesan
grated cheddar

Prepare the cardoons:

Trim the ends.

You'll then need to also trim the sides of each stalk - removing any side leaves and thorns if present.
Next you'll need to peel them to remove the stringy outer layer and finally cut them into even sized pieces - for this recipe I've cut them into batons about the length of your thumb.

It's important to have a pot of acidulated water ready while you prepare the cardoons - they do oxidise so once you've cleaned a section drop them immediately into the water to stop them from browning.

Put a large pot of salted water on to boil - when boiling add the prepared cardoons and simmer until tender. Depending on size this can take a half an hour or more.

Once cooked, drain them well before using.

Assemble the dish:

Cover the base of a baking dish with a thin layer of Béchamel.
Arrange the cooked cardoons over the top in a single layer then pour over the remaining Béchamel followed by a good sprinkling of cheese.

Cardoons with Béchamel sauce© by Haalo

Bake in a preheated 180°C oven until golden and warmed through.

Cardoons with Béchamel sauce© by Haalo

These make an excellent companion to roasted pork or chicken.


  1. I absolutely agree Cardoons will certainly never win any "most beautiful vegetable" prize but what a wonderment they add to a dish. When I was a child, my father would dip Cardoons in a tempura type batter and deep fry them. Oh, it's been much too long since I've had them. They were simply delicious.

    Thank you so much for stirring up those memories, Haalo. Your recipe is now bookmarked!

    Thank you so much for sharing...

  2. What a great post! I've never seen cardoons or eaten them; would love to try this!

  3. Thanks Louise - if I ever get hot of more cardoons I must try them battered!

    Thanks Kalyn - they are rare here so I consider myself lucky

  4. did you find them at queen vic? that's the only place i've ever seen cardoons for sale in australia.


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