Cardoons

‘Tis the season of cardoons here in Morocco. Google image “cardoon” if you’ve never seen them. Wikipedia says:

The cardoon (Cynara cardunculus), also called the artichoke thistlecardonecardonicarduni or cardi, is a thistle-like plant in the family Asteraceae. It is the naturally occurring form of the same species as the globe artichoke, and has many cultivated varieties. It is native to the western and central Mediterranean region, where it was domesticated in ancient times.

More at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cardoon

The few times I’ve had them cooked à la marocaine, I’ve found them a bit mushy and not very interesting. But H brought some back from the market a few weeks ago and I found out I do actually like them, if they’re cooked al dente. In fact I liked them so much I asked him to get more. They have a lovely artichoke flavour, and taste so ridiculously nutritious they beg to be followed by a sweet, rich dessert to make up for all that healthiness.

Prepped cardoons

Prepped cardoons

To prep the cardoons, chop them into 4cm long pieces and pare down to remove any spines or extra stringy bits. Wait until the last minute to rinse in cold water (otherwise they apparently get viscous as they cook).
I started out by making a tomato sauce (carrots, peeled and diced fresh tomatoes, red peppers, tomato concentrate and garlic) and letting that reduce to nice sauciness. I made it with lamb chops this time, but had I been making it with tajine bits of lamb I would have browned the meat first and cooked it with the tomato sauce.

Saucy sauce

Saucy sauce

Add lamb chops and simmer til just cooked.

Adding chops

Adding chops

Remove chops (so as to not overcook). Add cardoons and simmer until al dente. Put the lamb back in and cook for another minute, adding peel of preserved lemon (or juice of a lemon if you don’t have preserved lemon).

Yummy healthiness

Yummy healthiness

The longest step in this recipe is preparing the cardoons. Otherwise a fast and tasty meal that I look forward to making again. I bet it would be good with wild rice if you feel it’s lacking a carb.

Vocab tidbit for Dad (and Hélène): cardoon is from the same family as artichoke and chard, and thistle (and guess what that is in French? “chardon”!), and the French “cardes” (a similar plant) – and perhaps from the same family as a certain Mademoiselle Hélène!

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