Michigan State University Extension
Preserving Food Safely - 01600689
This vegetable is a member of the thistle family and is a close relative of the globe artichoke, although it looks more like celery. Cardoon is cultivated for its fleshy root and stems, some of which are six or seven feet long. There are also many wild varieties, but they are smaller and less tender. Tenderness in the cultivated varieties is ensured through blanching, which involves tying the leaves together after they have attained maximum growth and storing them for some time before marketing.
The artichoke enjoyed by the ancient Greeks and Romans was actually cardoon. It was also prominent in medieval cooking. It is popular in Europe today, but less so in the United States, where the stems are often known as chard. They should not be confused with real chard, or spinach beet.
The main root, which is thick, fleshy and tender, is often boiled, then served cold in salad. It may also be sauted in butter or served in Bechamel sauce. The stems may be treated like asparagus or celery, and the leaves, like spinach.