The only catch is that they're extremely fibrous, so you need to boil them for an hour before you can do much of anything with them. Actually, in this recipe, it became a blessing in disguise, because we were able to flavor them with wine and lemon during this process before we breaded and fried them Roman-style, much like many do with artichokes.
Though pretty, cardoons can be surprisingly thorny, so wear gloves when you peel them and be sure to get rid of all the thistles. We had to pick thorns out of our hands, so you don't have to.
To learn more, read "Cardoon Network."
Roman-Style Fried Cardoons
Recipe from the Tasting Table Test Kitchen
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour and 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes
1½ pounds (1 bunch) cardoons, trimmed and peeled
½ cup white wine
2 thyme sprigs
1 lemon, halved
¾ cup all-purpose flour
4 eggs, beaten
1½ cups dry bread crumbs
Canola oil, for frying
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly grated Parmesan, for garnish
Chopped parsley, for garnish
Lemon wedges, for serving
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cut the cardoons into 3-by-1-inch pieces and add them to the pot, along with the wine, thyme and lemon, and cook until the cardoons are tender, 1 hour. Drain, discarding the lemon and thyme sprigs, and let cool.
2. Line up three shallow dishes and fill with the flour, eggs and bread crumbs, respectively. One at a time, dredge the cardoons in the flour, egg and bread crumbs, then egg and bread crumbs again. Transfer each to a plate until ready to fry.
3. Meanwhile, in a 6-quart Dutch oven, heat 2 inches of canola oil to 350°. Line a plate with paper towels and set aside. Working in batches, fry the breaded cardoons until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to the prepared plate to drain, immediately seasoning with salt. Garnish with grated Parmesan and chopped parsley, then serve with lemon wedges.