One of Guy’s projects – seasonal, quirky and hard-to-come-by! Cardoons are a relative of his beloved globe artichoke. They are cultivated for their fleshy leaf-ribs.

Storage & prep

Will keep for about a week

Storage: Keep in the bottom of the fridge.

Prep: Bitter and tough when raw, they need to be prepared and cooked before eating. Remove any leaves and thorny edges. Put into acidulated water (water with a squeeze of lemon) to stop them browning. Chop into 2cm crescents for gratins and braising, or 6cm batons for fritters. Boil in plenty of acidulated, salted water for 15 mins to tenderise. Drain and refresh under cold water.

Cooking ideas

Fritters: Prep the cardoons as above and pat dry. Shake in a plastic bag with 2 tbsp seasoned flour to coat. Dip in a beaten seasoned egg then roll in breadcrumbs. Deep fry in batches in an inch of oil until golden. Serve immediately, perhaps with aioli for dipping.
Gratin: Prep the cardoons as above. Cut 2 medium potatoes into 1cm batons. Butter a gratin dish and fill with the cardoons and potato, 100g grated parmesan (or cheddar), 2 chopped garlic cloves, 250ml double cream and 100ml whole milk. Top with a mixture of breadcrumbs and 50g parmesan. Bake at 180°C for about 40 mins until the potatoes are tender and the top has browned.
Braised: Gently sweat 4 chopped shallots and 1 garlic clove with a knob of butter and a dash of olive oil for a few mins. Add the cardoons, prepared as above, along with a bay leaf, thyme sprig and a small glass of white wine or sherry. Season with salt and pepper. Let the booze reduce by half and add enough stock to just cover the cardoons. Loosely cover and simmer for 20 mins until tender.

Cardoon recipe

Cardoon gratin

Cardoons taste like a cross between celery and artichoke heart with a little bitterness thrown in for good measure. Serve this creamy, cheesy gratin golden and bubbling from the oven as a vegetarian main with grains or crusty bread and salad. A few cooked potatoes can be added to this gratin if you like before you bake it, to bulk it out a little.

Serves 4 - 1h 45 min

Flavour Friends

Cardoons work well with:

Acid – lemon juice, white wine, vinegar


Cured pork – bacon, chorizo, prosciutto

Dairy – butter, cheese, cream



Green summer veg – broad beans, green beans, peas

Herbs – bay, chervil, chives, mint, parsley, tarragon, thyme

Mushrooms and truffles

Shellfish – especially crab and prawns


© 2019 Riverford Organic Farmers Ltd