Food On the grill

Cardoon: it's in season

Published on 12/04/2022

The winter vegetable is typical of Lyon and the surrounding region, offering flavours of yesteryear that have challenged more than one cook.

Cardoon has a little taste of artichoke and is packed with nutrition. Low in calories but full of calcium, potassium and magnesium, it is a precious ally when the weather starts to turn cold.

To cook it, clean and then carefully string it. To do this successfully and make a gratin that melts in the mouth, the secret is to always cut cardoon with scissors, not a knife. And you must only string the sides! In the traditional Lyonnais recipe, marrowbone is added – “the fat of the marrow enhances the 
pieces of cardoon,” writes Chef Joseph Viola in his book La cuisine canaille (published by Hachette Cuisine), which is then served with quenelles (dumplings) or a white meat.

The cardoon of Vaulx

While the vegetable’s Protected Desingation of Origin is reserved for Switzerland, the cardoon of Vaulx-en-Velin is famous around the world. Very popular during the festive season, it even has a yearly celebration dedicated to it, on the 7th and 8th of December in Vaulx-Village. This celebration involves a collective peeling session on the 7th and tasting on the 8th.

Gérard Essayan, a market gardener at the Jardins de Vartan, in the neighbouring town of Décines, harvests it in mid-November and sells it for three to four weeks (no more) at his organic farm. He also sells it in jars, in brine made with salt of Guérande.

To find this vegetable pre-prepared, head to Maison Malartre at the Halles de Paul-Bocuse indoor food market. All you need to do is add some grated Gruyère cheese to bake it au gratin and voilà!