/Fried Cardoons in Palermo's Ballaro' Market

Fried Cardoons in Palermo's Ballaro' Market


It’s that time of year again: cardoon season. I spied them for the first time this fall a couple of weeks ago in the Testaccio Market in Rome where the raw plants were being sold by the bundle. On Friday in Palermo’s Ballaro’ Market, I saw two cooked incarnations of the vegetable. Boiled cardoons were sold from large aluminum pots and fried cardoons were sold at the panelle vendor’s stall. Guess which one I went for?

The fried cardoons looked like the filetti di baccala’, with lots of golden brown breading around the stalks. From what I gathered, the cardoons had been boiled first to make them more tender and less bitter, then dipped in batter and deep fried. The were displayed beside other enticing fried snacks like panelle and crocche’ (fried mashed potatoes), but we stuck to this seasonal treat. The vendor fried them for a second time to warm them up, apparently anticipating that we were looking for the most cholesterol rich food in town, and served them to us on a sheet of brown paper to soak up the oil. Ah, I love a city that can turn its healthy produce into heart attack inducing fare.

2016-01-07T14:37:31+00:00 November 24th, 2009|Categories: Fried Foods, Sicily|5 Comments


  1. Megan November 24, 2009 at 11:41 am - Reply

    My grandmother in law makes these for Christmas Eve dinner, using the same thick batter for frying artichokes as well. The trick is taking off all the tough, bitter outer layers (akin to celery). Since I don’t eat the main course of meat, I always have a big pile of these on my plate.

  2. shayma November 24, 2009 at 8:56 pm - Reply

    mmm buon appetito. when i read these kind of posts i think, dolce? who needs dolce when you have fried treats? i could live the rest of my life eating this type of fried food; trading in dolce for it. maybe not dark chocolate though…

  3. Carmelita November 24, 2009 at 9:14 pm - Reply

    Here in Emilia-Romagna too they have that same tendency with veg. which are often turned into luscious Sformati (veg. puree with béchamel, cream, eggs)- they seem so light, but…!

    And here too they do great Cradi Fritti, and also a casserole layering Cardi with pork susage ragù. yum!!

  4. Lola November 28, 2009 at 10:49 pm - Reply

    I’m a cardoon fetishist myself–preparing vats of bagna càuda just so I can dip cardoons in it and revel–but I had never heard of twice-fried cardoons in batter. Must absolutely taste!

    Grazie for this educating (and salivation-inducing) post, and for the spiked LDL level.

    Lola xx

  5. Professor Lee April 20, 2014 at 2:56 am - Reply

    I always say the best way to have vegetables is deep fried!

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