Baked Cardoon

Similar in taste to an artichoke, cardoon is an Italian favorite. Here, the celery-like stalks are baked with fresh bread crumbs and nutty Grana cheese.

Ingredients:
4-6 cups cardoon*, sliced into thin pieces
1 cup grated Grana cheese
1 cup bread crumbs
½ cup fresh parsley, chopped
4 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper.
Freshly-squeezed lemon

Method:
* To prep cardoon, discard tough outer stalks and remove any leaves. Cut the stalks into 3-inch pieces, removing all strings, and immerse the trimmed stalks into a bowl of water to prevent discoloration. Flash-boil trimmed stalks in water (to extract some bitterness) for approximately 3-5 minutes until slightly tender. Remove from heat, let cool, and prep as described above.

1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Lightly grease a shallow 9 by 13-inch gratin dish. Arrange the cardoon pieces in a single layer at the bottom of the pan, then top with bread crumbs, Grana and parsley.

2. Season, to taste, with the salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil. Place in the oven and bake until the top is golden brown, about 25 minutes. Serve hot with a squeeze of lemon.

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