As promised, here it is the perfect match for last week’s capon braised in tomato: cardoons, or, as we call them in my area, gobbi. Now you can find them quite easily in whatsoever supermarket – even in my town, not the best furnished shop in the world! – but in the past farmers would make them working directly on an artichoke plant, taking away new sprouts. New artichoke sprouts could be cooked, if tender, in an omelette or in a flan.
At the end of summer, the sprouts left on the plant were wrapped in a thick yellow paper and tied up, let grow in the dark, so that they would remain white. Winter time is the perfect season to eat cardoons.
In the past weekend I browsed throught the old Pellegrino Artusi’s book with my grandmother, searching for the recipe they used to make when she was a child. We couldn’t find the recipe of the three time cooked cardoons (first you boil them, then you fry them, eventually you braise them in the capon tomato sauce), but we found many interesting recipes. They all have in common one point: Pellegrino Artusi explains that cardoons are light, easy to digest, refreshing but… tasteless (it’s not true! they have a delicious artichoke flavour!) so you must use a lot of sauce and seasoning.
The is what we did, we used a lot of seasoning! This is how my grandma’s aunt Pasquina used to cook cardoons.
- 1 bunch of cardoons, about 1 kg
- 1 clove of garlic
- 100 g of flour
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 2 eggs
- Black pepper
- Rinse the cardoons, remove the stringy parts and cut into chunks. Bring a large pot of water to the boil, add a generous pinch of salt and and cook the cardoons for about 45 minutes.
- When they are soft and they can be easily pierced with a knife, drain them well and cool them down under cold water. This will avoid them turning green.
- Pat them dry with some kitchen paper and dust them with flour, then set them aside.
- Chop finely the garlic and pour a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in a pan: sauté briefly the garlic then add the cardoons. Brown them on each side and season with salt and pepper.
- Beat the eggs with salt and pepper and pour them over the cardoons: stir roughly to thicken the eggs to a scrambled egg texture and serve the cardoons.