You might be wondering, what on Earth is a cardoon, anyway? A thistle-like plant, cardoons (also called cardone) grow abundantly in the Mediterranean and are usually in season from November to March. A close relative to the globe artichoke, the cardoon looks a bit like celery on steroids, growing as tall as six feet. It has thorny, silver-grey leaves and pom-pom-like purple blossoms.
It’s not exactly a friendly-looking vegetable and it probably won’t make you salivate at first sight. But their delicate artichoke-like flavor is as refined as it is addictive.
If you cannot find cardoons in your local store or farmers market, don’t despair! The velouté can be made with frozen artichoke hearts and tastes very similar.