HUNCHBACK CARDI RECIPE: Italy’s ugliest & tastiest vegetable

HUNCHBACK CARDI RECIPE: Italy’s ugliest and tastiest vegetable
HUNCHBACK CARDI RECIPE: Italy’s ugliest and tastiest vegetable


The poor ol’ “cardi gobbi” – the hunchback cardoon – is perhaps one of the ugliest vegetables around.

But it can be easily turned into one of the yummiest served with the below “bagna càuda” (warm sauce) simple vegetable recipe.

Coming from the Piedmont region of Italy, the cardi gobbi is a cardoon that has been termed ‘hunchback’ due to its shape. To survive through the colder months, it grows partially underground, the leafy bits peeking out from the earth to seek the warm rays of sunshine. As a result of this cultivation, the form becomes curved and hunchback-esque.

The freshest cardi cobbi can be identified by their whiteness. All the stalks will also be close together.

This recipe is from Slow Food’s Vegetable Cookbook and is a really easy vegetable recipe, perfect as a unique side dish.

Bring to the boil a large pot of salted water. Peel off the toughest of the outer leaves of the cardi gobbi, but keep them aside to use in soup recipes if you’d like. Just as with celery, you can also ‘skin’ the stems of the fibery strands. Cut into 5 centimetre pieces and add into the boiling salted water to cook for around an hour or so.

Whist cooking the cardi gobbi, you can make the bagna càuda sauce. You’ll need a two heads of garlic, peeled. Simmer these in milk until soft (around 20 minutes) then mash with a fork. Take 3 salted anchovies and mix into the garlic. Pour in two cups of extra virgin olive oil and add the mix back into the pan to cook for around 10 minutes. Taste the mixture and if you want more salt, add it. 🙂

Then, once the cardi cobbi are nice and tender, strain and serve on a plate. Drizzle the bagna càuda sauce atop.

Share especially with anyone you are planning to kiss. And enjoy!


For great insight into the best places to eat in Italy, ask the locals! You can meet lots of foodie locals on our small-group Italian Food Tour in Florence!

To learn to make delicious, typical Italian recipes before indulging in a delicious meal made by you, we have hands-on cooking classes in Florence and Cooking Classes in a Tuscan Villa.


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