Learning to eat isn’t just for the kids in our house. Recently we’ve taken to picking up a bi-weekly “mystery box” from a local farmer. She comes to the city to make restaurant deliveries, and makes her extra produce available to those who are willing to pick up an unpredictable assortment. The benefit to us is that for $25, we generally wind up with over $50 worth of fabulous fresh vegetables, some of which we have never seen before. So then it’s a little homework for me as I figure out what to do with the bounty. Our recent mystery box included cardoons and agretti; I knew that from the list tucked into our pile, but had to do a quick Google image search to match each vegetable with its name, and then do a little more research to figure out what to do with them.
Cardoons look somewhat like celery:
The various sources I found advised peeling off the tough outer strings and then blanching them; prepping them only took a couple minutes, after which they looked like this:
They taste rather like artichoke — a mild, sweet flavor — so I tossed together a quick pasta with marcona almonds, lemon zest, and olives (green olives would have been prettier, but I didn’t happen to have any):
My picky boys are these days more interested in brand new things than the old familiar foods, so they tried this eagerly, and although they probably wound up eating more of the almonds and olives than the cardoons, I’m calling this a success.
Cardoons are in fact related to artichokes…they’re part of the thistle family. I’m pretty sure you can bake it braise it, too, or use it to dip in bagna cauda. I haven’t seen it in my market yet this year, but this dish looks like a great use of it. Agretti, on the other hand, I know nothing about!
I found plenty of recipes for cardoon gratins, which are probably fabulous but in ways more about the cream than the vegetable. It’d be great baked or braised simply and sprinkled with pine nuts or bread crumbs, and I’d love it in bagna cauda.
More on agretti to come! It looks like grass, or chives, and has a salty flavor. My kids have been nibbling on it raw, but I’ll report back when I’ve cooked it.
is that box avail here in the east bay, or just to you lucky SF folk?
Fine Dining Vegetarian Recipes
You have built a mass of great content here and i have enjoyed surfing around. I was trying to find information about fine dining vegetarian recipes and your post Learning To Eat » Archivio » Car-what? Cardoons. has been a great help. Ben