Cardoon is available in some American supermarkets in the winter months, but you may have better luck finding them at farmers markets. The stalks of cardoon look like giant celery, but they need to be pared and cleaned before they're cooked. Be very careful of the prickles that may be on the leaves and edges of the stalks. Wearing gloves will help protect your hands from them, and also will prevent protect your fingers from staining brown.
It's very difficult to pare cardoon if the stalks are not firm and fresh. Try to work with the cardoon the day you buy it, and then refrigerate the cleaned cardoon until you need it.
To clean the cardoon, you'll need:
- a small, sharp paring knife
- a vegetable peeler (optional)
- a large bowl
- two or more large fresh lemons, cut into quarters