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Grandma Menna’s Kitchen: cardoons

As promised, here it is the perfect match for last week 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 supermarket, not the best furnished shop in the world! –  but in the past farmers made them working directly on an artichoke plant, taking away new sprouts. New artichoke sprouts could be cooked, if tender, in an omelette or 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 remained white. Winter time is the perfect season to eat cardoons!

In the past weekend I browsed throught the old Pellegrino Artusi book with my grandmother, searching for the recipe they used to make when she was a child. We couldn’t find the recipe of three time cooked cardoons (first, you boil them, second you fry them, third you braise them in capon tomato sauce… give them a try!), 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 remind artichoke flavour!) so you must use lot of sauce and seasoning.

… as we are Tuscan people, we are skilled in sauce and seasoning! So, let’s see Aunt Pasquina recipe for cardoons.


  • cardoons, 1 bunch
  • garlic, 1 clove
  • parsley, 1 small bunch
  • flour to dust
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • eggs
  • milk
  • salt and pepper

Rinse cardoons, remove external filaments and cut off hard parts. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil, and cook cardoons for about 20 minutes. When they get soft, drain them well, pass them under cold running water – to avoid them turning green – and pat them dry with cooking paper. Dust them with flour and set them aside.

Chop finely garlic and parsley and pour a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in a pan: saute them for a few minutes and add cardoons. Brown them on each side, season them with salt and pepper and after 5 minutes add 100 ml of milk. Let it reduce.

Beat eggs (I used 2 eggs, it all depends on how many people you want to serve and on the purpose you are making this dish for:  main course or side dish) with salt and pepper and pour them over cardoons: stir roughly to thicken eggs and cardoons are ready!

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This Post Has 6 Comments
  1. Giulia,

    This is beautiful! Your images are breathtaking and I love that you sit with your grandmother to go over recipes. I wish I could do that, alas.. the phone is what I use 🙁 Savor those precious times 😉 Besitos, MWAH!

  2. I have to agree with Diana–I’m so jealous that you get to sit with your grandmother to go over recipes! When we visit my grandmother that is still leaving I talk food with her every chance I get! This recipe sounds delicious!

  3. Juls,

    This looks fantastic! And how nice that you have memories of your grandmother when you cook this. We don’t get a lot of cardoons in the US – I’m looking forward to trying this recipe when I get to Tuscany!

    I owe you an e-mail too!

  4. I grow cardoons in my garden and I’ve been completely stumped with what to do with them – their flowers and foliage are fabulous at least! Thanks for the great ideas!

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