When giving a tour of our farm, one of the first plants that always catches our guests' attention is cardoon, or Cynara cardunculus. Easily standing above me, with her feathery, silver-green (yet thorned) leaves outstretched, her beauty is hard to miss. An uncommon garden plant in our area, she immediately captured my own attention as I was seed browsing three years ago.
According to Gourmetpedia, botanists have a long-standing controversy over cardoon's origins. Because it is so similar to the artichoke, many wonder if they are related. The common ancestor to these two may be the wild cardoon found throughout the Mediterranean basin, and which the Greeks called Lactos. Eventually, Huguenot farmers from southern France brought this plant to Geneva in the 16th century.
Annnd, happily, it made its way to our little homestead here in South Carolina.
Besides being a lovely addition to your garden, it also boasts edible stalks that resemble celery once the leaves are trimmed. I usually wear my trusty leather gardening gloves to do the trimming. This year, after I felt she was quite established, I felt comfortable harvesting some of her stalks to sell to our CAFE customers. One friend absolutely fell in love with this Mediterranean vegetable and made several delicious dishes with it! Her advice: use the tender, young stalks for dishes that are light on seasoning, and the older, tougher stalks for slow-cook recipes that are heavy with spices.
Here's the dish "Tagine of Beef with Cardoon" our friend, Loria, shared with us from Cooking with Alia:
This Moroccan recipe is sure to spice up your night with delicious, fragrant flavors that will carry you off to visions of warm days and colorful streets. Make sure you visit the homestead or one of the farmers markets we frequent next spring when you're willing to try out a new veggie! Cooking with Alia's recipe is a great resource, and I'd also recommend checking out Good Food's reference to Jennifer McLagan’s new book, Bitter: A Taste of the World’s Most Dangerous Flavor, with Recipes.
Thanks for the tasty recipe, Loria!
Did you make something delicious with Reid Homestead produce or products? Share your recipe with us!