'Hunchback'. Large plant producing strong celery flavoured cardoons from near Asti in Piemonte.
Sow: from March - end June
Horticultural name: Cynara cardunculus
The Nizza Monferrato hunchback cardoon is an essential ingredient in one of the symbols of Piedmontese gastronomy, bagna caoda, a boiling-hot sauce of garlic, extra-virgin olive oil and anchovies served with vegetables. Sown in May in the sandy soil along the Belbo River, the cardoons become “hunchbacks” thanks to an unusual cultivation technique. In September the tall, bushy plants are folded and covered with earth. As they try to free themselves and reach the light, they swell and curve. The stems lose all their chlorophyll, becoming white and tender. After a month they are uncovered and the leaves and any damaged parts are cut off, leaving the crisp, sweet heart. Hunchback cardoons can be stuffed, fried, made into soup or prepared in many other ways.