December 18, 2010

Cooking Cardoons- Marisa's Polpette

From emails I get from my blog readers and on FB, I see cardoons are getting easier to find in America. Cardoons are cousins with artichokes, looking more like celery, but tasting like artichoke hearts. What's not to love? When I was at Paola's my ortolana (vegetable vendor) in town, she had huge fabulous long cardoons from her own garden so I had to buy them as they are my husband's favorite!

when I saw this I HAD to have it

One of the ways I learned to cook here was while standing at the shop, where there is a line, to ask a question out loud about how to prepare something. Although I know several ways to prepare cardoons, there was a nice lady that was in line in front of me and I decided to throw my question out there.

Paola said Marisa was a fabulous cook and her suggetion for the cardoon polpettine sounded a lot like what my mother-in-law did with celery.

 Marisa bundled up as it prepared to snow in Certaldo

Cardoons take a lot of prep to cook and this takes it one step farther. Marisa said to "Stritare bene bene" squeeze--(the boiled cardoons and bind with egg, parmesan cheese and a tiny bit of flour before pan frying. If I wanted something really, really special, to place them in a pan with a ragu or a stew to soak up the sauce.

The celery dish is the same and I have also seen a version in Montevarchi in ragu, where the celery is squeezed to look like spools, called rocchette.

Preparing Cardoons ( Cardi, Gobbi,Cardoni)
Cut off the root end of the cardoons and remove any leaves, they are not edible.

Remove "threads" from the cardoon stalks ( like for celery)

Cut into 3 in pieces and place in water with lemon juice to prevent oxidation.

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook the cardoon pieces until tender.

Drain and let cool.

Now they are ready to eat as is, can be just baked with butter and grated parmesan cheese or-

Floured and fried and eaten as is, lightly salted.
After frying place is a tomato sauce to stew

Marisa's Polpette: Meatless Meatballs

After cleaning and boiling the cardoons, mince finely and squeeze out the excess water.

Place in bowl and add 1 beaten egg and salt to taste.
Add grated parmesan cheese and enough flour to hold the mixture together.
Form small shapes to fry, like a patty or a spool.

Lightly flour or roll in breadcrumbs and pan fry.
You can serve fried sprinkled with salt or
As Marissa suggested in the sauce of my chicken cacciatore.

Can't wait for dinner to try in the sauce!

here are the breaded and fried polpette
with the chicken cacciatore

here they are actually cooked in the sauce-
I agree, they look fabulous


  1. I've never heard of cardoons but I love artichokes and would like to try these. When are they in season in North America?

  2. I bought my Cardoons yesterday, look forward to trying them this way! you have created a cardoon addict!

  3. I always ask out loud! It's a great way to the fact you do the same! fritti e rifatti nel pomodoro I actually did the same with my fennels.

  4. did you fry them before adding to the sauce?

  5. @paola-- yes says so in the notes-- after frying you can add to sauce! they are so great that way!

  6. I've to try them yet. So Italian and so ignorant :)

  7. Oh my, Judy. This looks heavenly.

  8. Anonymous10:43 PM

    I have been looking for this recipe for a long time. Thanks. Do you have a recipe for artichoke hearts baked with rice? My Italian friend does not know her mother's recipe. It was delicious.

    1. if you can tell me where her mom is from-- and a little more detail will be glad to find the recipe. there really is no such thing as Italian cooking, but more of regional recipes. where i live in tuscany they don't do just hearts. makes me think northern italy as they sell hearts already cleaned- and rice is more often a northern dish.