by Caroline

Learning to eat isn’t just for the kids in our house. Recently we’ve taken to picking up a bi-weekly “mystery box” from a local farmer. She comes to the city to make restaurant deliveries, and makes her extra produce available to those who are willing to pick up an unpredictable assortment. The benefit to us is that for $25, we generally wind up with over $50 worth of fabulous fresh vegetables, some of which we have never seen before.  So then it’s a little homework for me as I figure out what to do with the bounty. Our recent mystery box included cardoons and agretti; I knew that from the list tucked into our pile, but had to do a quick Google image search to match each vegetable with its name, and then do a little more research to figure out what to do with them.
Cardoons look somewhat like celery:

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The various sources I found advised peeling off the tough outer strings and then blanching them; prepping them only took a couple minutes, after which they looked like this:

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They taste rather like artichoke — a mild, sweet flavor — so I tossed together a quick pasta with marcona almonds, lemon zest, and olives (green olives would have been prettier, but I didn’t happen to have any):

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My picky boys are these days more interested in brand new things than the old familiar foods, so they tried this eagerly, and although they probably wound up eating more of the almonds and olives than the cardoons, I’m calling this a success.