White as the sky, roofs and streets of Genoa these days. White as the snow that enveloped Genoa in a whirlwind of icy wind.
The white cardoon with its candor has the taste and shape of winter. The broad, hard and fleshy coats hide a soft heart with a sweet taste that resembles the flavor of artichoke, a close relative.
It’s an ancient vegetable, almost forgotten, perhaps because it requires some time to find them and some patience for cleaning it removing all the filaments, perhaps because with its ungraceful lines it does not meet the aesthetic taste of our days.
I found an ancient recipe of roasted cardoons in one of my beloved traditional Italian Riviera cook book o “Cucina di strettissimo magro”. A cookbook written by a Franciscan friar in 1880 to help common housewives to prepare their menus during Lent period, when eating animal food was completely by the Church. It’s an amusing, healthy cook book full of folks’ culinary wisdom.
The recipe is quite surprising. The cardoons are cleaned, cut into chunks, blanched and then put to gratin in the oven with tomato sauce, breadcrumbs and … (drumroll…) an incredible white sauce made with bread, pine nuts, anchovies, garlic and aromatic herbs. A cream that collects all the ancient flavors of Ligurian cuisine and that at the same time enhances the delicate taste of cardoons.
Do you want to try it too? If so, please then let me know!
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