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How to Make Sautéed Cardoon (“What the Heck is Cardoon?”)


Two weeks ago, our friends at Northshire Farm were selling an odd looking plant that looked like some form of celery. They assured us it was better than that. We bought some. They posted two recipes for it, and we tried one of them. They were right!

Cardoon is actually in the artichoke family and has a similar savory character. Apparently Mario Batali loves it as an ingredient and says it has a “very sexy flavor”. The sauté recipe that Northshire linked to has an amazing richness of flavor that really highlights the uniqueness of the cardoon. Like artichoke, it turns a kind of sickly yellow-green, but ignore that and just eat it. If you can find cardoon, grab it and give this recipe a shot!

Cardoon is fibrous and needs to be boiled to be edible. This recipe sounds like a lot of work / time because of the 45-minute boil, but really it’s 5 minutes of work, then a 45 minute wait, and then less than 10 minutes of work.

Sautéed Cardoon with Thyme and Pine Nuts

Makes 4 servings

Amount Ingredient Preparation Where we bought it
(* Union Sq. Greenmarket)
0.5 lbs Cardoon (the amount pictured came to exactly 0.5 lbs ) Trimmed Northshire Farm *
1 Yellow or white onion Halved and thinly sliced S&SO *
2 TBsp Honey Northshire Farm *
1 TBsp Fresh thyme De-stalked Keith’s Farm *
1 Lemon
2 TBsp Sherry
0.25 cup Pine nutes Toasted
2 TBsp Olive oil


  1. Add a large pinch of salt and the juice of one lemon to a large pot of water and put it on high heat to bring to a boil. I just cut the lemon in half and squeezed the juice out with my hands right over the pot. You’ll toss the water out later so it isn’t a big deal if you get a few lemon seeds in it.
  2. Trim the ugly ends off the cardoon and then cut it into pieces small enough so that it all fits comfortably in the pot.

    Trim the cardoonCardoon cut to fit in the pot

  3. Once the water is boiling, add the cardoon, turn down the hear and let it simmer for 45 minutes. While it’s simmering, slice the onion. Next, toast the pine nuts on a baking sheet in the oven at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes, until they look and taste a bit toasted, but not burned. Check on them frequently.
  4. When its long simmer is done, remove the cardoon and cut it into half-inch pieces.

    Cardoon after boilingChopped into half-inch pieces

  5. Heat the oil in a pan or skillet on medium-high and add the onion. Sauté until they begin to caramelize.

    Caramelizing the onions

  6. Turn the heat down to medium and add the cardoon and sauté for about two minutes. Add the sherry and reduce until most of it is evaporated. Add the honey and thoroughly mix it in.

    Sautéing the cardoon

  7. Add the pine nuts and cook for another minute. Turn off the heat and season with salt and pepper, and add the thyme (leaves removed from the stalk).

    Sautéed cardoon

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