Cardoon is for both the ornamental and gourmet gardener. Cardoon makes a dramatic statement in the flower border with its striking foliage and fat thistle buds that open into large violet-blue blooms. Cardoon is a close relative of the globe artichoke and is considered a delicacy. It is grown for its thick, fleshy stalks, which have an artichoke-like flavor. The stalks are blanched and are delicious braised or steamed. They may also be stewed, eaten raw in salads, or used in soups. Since cardoons are almost impossible to find at the grocery store, try growing your own such as Bianco Avorio. Cardoon should be started indoors in late winter or early spring, and the seedlings can be transplanted outside after the danger of frost has passed.
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