Don’t be frightened! That ferocious looking celery that you see at the farmer’s market is a cardoon, a mild-tasting stalk that is served often in Mediterranean cuisine. What to do with it? The gratin below is inspired by a recipe from Alice.
cardoons, about 6 stalks
salt and pepper
lemon or vinegar
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
- Prepare the pot of water that you will later use for simmering. As soon as you begin to trim a cardoon, it may change color, so you need to be ready to place it in water that is “acidulated.” (Great word, isn’t it? I intend to use it as often as possible.) Acidulate your water with a little squeeze of lemon (or a tablespoon of vinegar.) Flavor with 2 tbls. olive oil and 1/2 tsp. salt.
- Trim your cardoons. Peel off the leaves and the thickest of the strings. (This will be easier to do if your cardoons are very fresh.) Cut into about 3-inch lengths and, as you work, immediately toss the trimmed cardoons into the acidulated water.
- Simmer the cardoons for 45 minutes. They should be almost tender, when you poke them with a fork.
- Drain and pour the cardoons into a small gratin dish. Cover halfway with chicken stock. Add salt and pepper. Stir. Fill until the cardoons are just covered with cream. Add Parmesan to the top.
- Bake at 375F until the top is brown, about 25 minutes.
- To serve as a side, scoop out cardoons with just a little bit of the liquid and plate.