Cardoons with Parsley, Anchovies and Olive Sauce

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

This is a dish with very rich flavors. Serve with a simple, light fish—no sauce.


Cynara cardunculus

Cardoons are a primitive relative of the artichoke. They are longish white heads with the leaves loosely wrapped. The jagged edges of the leaves show their thistle connection, but only the innermost are thorny and in any way ferocious. They are often baked in a béchamel sauce or made into a gratin. See pages 242 and 243 for a version of each dish.



Buy heads that are light in color and fairly firm. While they can be stored whole in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for 2 days, it may be preferable to wash, cut and boil them ahead so that they take up less space.


Separate the ribs, discarding the leafy center. Be careful when handling the center ribs, as they may have small thorns. Strip the outer leaves from each rib. Rinse well. Ribs near the center may have a white fuzzy coating that can be easily removed by rubbing with fingers or a stiff brush under running water.

To peel, trim the ends, then use a vegetable peeler to remove the fibrous skin. Cut into 3-inch lengths. (Use stainless steel implements.)

Soak the pieces in water with lemon juice for 30 minutes. Drain.



For 2 pounds cardoons, peeled and trimmed, fill a large pot with 8 cups water, or twice the volume of cardoons. Add 1 teaspoon kosher salt plus juice and shells of 1 lemon. Bring to a boil. Add cardoons. Simmer 1½ hours, or until tender. Drain. Rinse under cold water.

This recipe can be multiplied.


Begin by peeling, cutting, soaking and boiling 3-inch lengths of cardoons as described above. Spread ½ cup all-purpose flour out on a plate; beat 3 eggs in a shallow bowl and mix together 1 cup dried bread crumbs and 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese in a second shallow bowl. Pat cardoon pieces dry and season with salt and pepper. Roll a few pieces at a time in flour; tap off excess. Turn to coat with egg and remove, letting excess egg drip back into bowl before coating with bread crumbs. Pat the crumbs lightly to help them stick. Pour enough vegetable oil and olive oil (equal amounts) into a large heavy skillet to come to ½ inch. Heat over medium heat until a breaded piece of cardoon gives off a lively sizzle. Add as many pieces as will fit without touching. Fry, turning once, until golden brown on both sides, about 8 minutes. Remove and drain. Repeat with remaining cardoons if necessary. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Yields and Equivalents

2 pounds cardoons (1 average head) = 1½ pounds peeled and trimmed

2 pounds cardoons, peeled, trimmed and cut into 3-inch lengths = 8 cups raw = 5 cups cooked

1 bunch cardoons = 5 to 8 ribs, average weight 5 ounces per rib

Makes3 cups; serves 6 as a side dish

Cooking Methodbraising


Total Timeunder 2 hours

OccasionCasual Dinner Party

Recipe Courseside dish

Dietary Considerationegg-free, high fiber, lactose-free, low calorie, low carb, low cholesterol, low saturated fat, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free


Taste and Textureherby, juicy, rich, savory

Type of Dishvegetable


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small bunch (1 1/2 pounds) cardoons, trimmed, peeled, cut into 3-inch lengths and boiled (see Notes), then sliced lengthwise into 3/4 to 1-inch strips (about 3 cups)
  • ½ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1½ cups Roasted Chicken Stock , Enriched Chicken Stock or commercial chicken broth
  • 2/3 cup Kalamata olives (4 ounces), pitted and chopped (about 6 tablespoons)
  • ¾ teaspoon anchovy paste
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


  1. Heat the oil in a medium pan. Add the cardoons and parsley. Stir briefly over medium heat. Add the flour, tossing to coat. Stir in the chicken stock. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and cook for 10 minutes.

  2. Stir in the olives and anchovy paste. Cook for 1 minute, uncovered, to thicken and reduce the sauce. Add the lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste.


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