50gof grated cheese, aged Pecorino Toscano, aged Parmigiano Reggiano or a mix of them + a few tablespoons to sprinkle on surface
Breadcrumbs to dust the baking pan and sprinkle on surface
For the bechamel sauce
250mlof cold whole milk
Rinse the cardoons in water and lemon juice to prevent them form blackening, remove any leaf and peel downwards to remove the strings. Cut into large pieces and cook in boiling salted water with the juice of a lemon for about 40 minutes, until tender.
Drain the cardoons and sautée in a pan with a knob of butter and a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. This will enhance their flavour. Mash the cardoons or blend with an immersion blender or pass them through a vegetable mill: choose accordingly to the texture you like for your flan.
Make the béchamel sauce by melting the butter over low heat. Add the flour and stir continuously with a fork or whisk until amber coloured and toasted. Pour the milk in a thin stream, stirring constantly to prevent lumps. Stir until the sauce is thick, it will take a few minutes, then season with salt and grated nutmeg.
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
In a bowl combine cardoons, béchamel, beaten eggs and cheese and stir throughly. Season with salt if needed.
Butter and sprinkle with bread crumbs a ceramic baking pan (about 15 cm large and 30 cm long) and spoon the cardoon flan into it. Sprinkle the surface with breadcrumbs and grated cheese and finish with slivers of butter.
Bake the flan for about 50 minutes, until firm and golden.