Cardoons are crunchy, with a fresh artichoke flavor. They are related to the artichoke, both are members of the thistle family. In years past I have had a hard time finding a regular source for them and have occasionally seen them on order lists from purveyors and at farmers markets. This year one of the growers at Path Valley Cooperative is growing lots of them and I am thrilled! The season is only 4-6 weeks long and will be ending shortly. In the mean time we are enjoying them.
This moment my favorite way to eat them is tossed into a salad. The preparation is a little tedious but well worth the effort–
Separate the individual stalks and lightly peel the outside of each stalk removing some of the outer skin. If you skip this step your cardoons will be stringy. Slice the cardoons into 1/8 inch slices and put immediately into water with lemon juice and salt and bring to a boil. Drain the cardoons and cover with fresh water, add lemon juice and salt. Repeat this process one or two more times until cardoons are tender and not bitter. If you cook them too many times they will become mushy. Once the cardoons are cooked I season them with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Enjoy them on their own or toss them into a salad.