Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Delicious fried cardoons, aka "cardi in pastella"

Do you know what cardoons are? And how we eat them? Here we have some vegetables that are not easy to find in other part of the world and I guess that cardoons are just an example. 

They are long-shaped vegetables characterised by a little bitterness, reason why kids don't usually like them, but by contrast adults really do.  

We normally boil them and prepare them in 2 versions: a dietetic one if it's a normal day of the week, which means only seasoned with olive oil, salt and lemon juice that reduce the bitterness, or in the fried version, usually as starter for one of the winter festivities. 

In this case we make what we call "pastella", a batter made of flour, water, salt, lemon juice and baking soda. Quantities as usual are difficult to define, normally an expert eye knows when it's enough :)


1. Wash the cardoons under running water, removing some external leaves and the superior part of the bunch.
2. Boil them in salted water where you can add the  half of a lemon.
3. Check them after 25 minutes or so with a fork, if it goes inside the cardoons and they are tender means they are ready, so you can drain and put them in a bowl to cool off.

4. In another recipient or bowl mix carefully flour with water, trying not to make any lumps. You can choose to have a more liquid batter or a ticker one, I prefer the second option.
5. Add salt and some baking soda and squeeze some lemon juice on the baking soda. It will look like it's frying. As soon as the chemical reaction is finished mix all together and there you have your batter ready! 
6. Put some olive oil on a frying pan on a high heat and in the meantime cut the cardoons in medium or small pieces (as you prefer).
7. When the oil is hot, deepen one piece after the other in the batter and fry them all on both sides until they become golden brown.

8. Finally leave them few minutes on some kitchen paper to absorb the exceeding oil and serve them hot. 
If you want you can stick some toothpicks so that they easily become Sicilian finger food!  

It is also possible to add some more salt and lemon juice on top, to reduce the bitterness and, besides, lemon is great on fried food in general because it tents to eliminate the grease. You will find them just amazing!


  1. I never heard of "cardi" until just before Christmas when my friend was telling me about them! He thought it strange that I had never eaten them, but they are hard to find in the USA, at least where I live. What a great post and love the pictures, too!

  2. Thank you so much Keith, I thought that in America you could find anything :) I hope you get the chance to try them!

  3. i am trying to find a recipe that my dad is longing to have - his mom use to fry dough with raisins-and cover them with table sugar. I know it sounds simple - but that's all he can remember - Does anyone know what I am talking about or know where I can look to find a recipe/ I would appreciate any help ... thank you