What Can You Do Do Do With a Cardoon?

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Cardoon is a green, leafy, weed-like vegetable with a crisp stalk.

Yesterday, Sarah DiGregorio provided a guide to the vegetables commonly available at this time of the year in local farmers' markets. Today, here's a report on a vegetable that was harder to find: cardoon.

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The business end of the cardoon is the stem -- throw the leaves away.

Known as cardoni in Italy, this stalky and leafy vegetable is much appreciated in Spain, France, and Italy, where it can be found growing wild. In fact, it looks like a weed, with a taste that the Food Lover's Companion describes as "a cross between celery, artichoke, and salsify."

The vegetable grows from late winter to early spring, and the specimens I scored at the Union Square stall of Gorzynski Ornery Farm, from Narrowsburg, NY, were inexpensive at $2.50 for a big bunch. They were also a little bitter, ruling out eating them raw, like celery.

Next: Recipe for cardoon gratin

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