Tender Cardoon Hearts--To Cook, Infuse?
I bought a big bunch of cardoons this morning, and while I know what to do with the stalks (poach and use in a pudding, poach and use in a gratin), I was surprised by how tender and lacy the inner leaves are on these.
I'm inclined to somehow take advantage of the beautiful structure, perhaps as a garnish for the top of the pudding? If a garnish, should I do a quick pickle with a nice vinegar and some salt, or fry them crisp and hope they stay flat enough to display the beautiful leaf structure?
I'm also curious about infusing some booze with them along the lines of Cynar.
Well, to reply to my own post: I test fried a salted leaf while holding it flat in the pan. The first chew is delicious--salty, crispy, flavorful--but then the next chews reveal an intensely bitter mass of fine fibers that don't really dissolve. These either need to be poached first to leach out some of the bitterness or to be pickled.
A couple of years past-due but I thought your question (and subsequent reply) were interesting. I've grown cardoon and have found the same to be true -very bitter leaves. They look like they should be tasty, but... I would be interested in knowing whether successfully fried after blanching. I'm looking for pickled cardoon recipes for some of this year's crop. If you or anyone reading this knows of any, I'd be happy to hear about them.