nuovo arrivo/new arrival
Confession. I am an Italian who only recently learned about cardoons. Car-what? Cardoons. A celery-looking veggie Tami shared with me, I left one home (hers) and returned to my home, excited and stumped. What the heck is a cardoon? “Oh, Google!” Searchy searchy and I learned a little something.
A cardoon is a thistle vegetable, a prickly, greenish vegetable with the tough exterior, available during the winter months, November until January. Kin to the artichoke, it really and truly looks and tastes like celery. Leaves and all. But, when cooked (and it is only eaten when cooked), the green vegetable tastes just like an artichoke. Really. Trust me; I was confused because my eyes saw one thing when I tried the cardoon while and my taste buds were encountering a completely different experience.
But, if you come across cardoons in the market, what do you do? When perusing cardoons at the market, grab hold of the small, crunchy bunch with green, plump stalks. Avoid the moldy, wilted or spongy cardoon. Once home, store a cardoon in the refrigerator, unwashed, for 2-3 days. When ready to use, clean the stalks using a peeler to remove any tough, outer strings. Lemon juice or vinegar assists in limiting discoloration, thwarting oxidation.
Wanting to preserve my cardoon’s brilliance, I went simple. I boiled, sauteed, and added a protein. The end result worked as my dinner and lunch for a couple of days.
Have you used cardoons? If so, what do you do with them?
Chicken Sausage and Cardoon Sauté
1 bunch cardoons (about 1 – 1½ pounds)
1 pound chicken sausage
½ Tbsp. olive oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
freshly ground pepper to taste
Using only the stalks, wash and chop the cardoons in 1-inch chunks. Cook in salted, boiling water, for 15-20 minutes, until tender. Drain thoroughly; set aside.
In the meantime, heat a non-stick pan on medium heat. Add the sausages and turn them until they are brown on all sides. Reduce the heat to medium. Add about 2 Tbsp water, just enough water to cover the bottom of the pan. *Don’t use too much water.* Cover and let the cook for 10 minutes, or until done, when firm and slightly springy texture. (A meat thermometer should read 165°F.)
Keep sauages whole or remove from skillet and cut into 1-inch pieces; set aside. (If any water is left in the pan, discard). Heat oi lover medium heat. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Return cooked sausage to pan, then cardoons. Season with pepper. Stir to coat and mix. Serves 4.
Cook sausages slowly to ensure the skins do not burst because the casings hold in the juices and help maintain moisture. So, do not pierce the skins before cooking!
Other Cardoon Creations: