The earliest description of the cardoon comes from the fourth century BCE Greek writer Theophrastus. The cardoon was popular in Greek and Roman cuisine. Cardoons remained popular in medieval and early modern Europe, and were common in the vegetable gardens of colonial America. They fell from fashion only in the late nineteenth century.

Cardoon stalks can be covered with small, nearly invisible spines that can cause substantial pain if they become lodged in the skin. Several "spineless" cultivars have been developed to overcome this but care in handling is recommended for all types. While the flower buds can be eaten much as the artichoke, more often the stems are eaten after being braised in cooking liquid. Battered and fried, the stems are also traditionally served at St. Joseph's altars in New Orleans.

Cardoons are used as a vegetarian source of enzymes for cheese production. In Portugal, traditional coagulation of the curd relies entirely on this vegetable rennet. This results in cheeses such as the Nisa (D.O.P.), with a peculiar earthy, herbaceous and a slightly citric flavour that bears affinitty with full-body or fortified wines.

Cardoon Nutrition Facts: Calories, Carbs, and Health Benefits

Cardoon is composed of 94% water, 4.07% carbohydrates, 0.7% protein, and negligible fat. One cup of chopped cardoon supplies you with 7.245 grams of carbohydrates, which is 5.57 percent of the minimum of 130 grams of carbohydrates you should have daily. That same a 100 gram reference serving of cardoon provides 17 calories and is a modest source of Vitamin B9 (folate, DFE) (17% of the Daily Value). This means if your diet contains cardoons, it helps your body to synthesize of red blood cells and even DNA and RNA, increase brain health, create more red blood cells and it is effective against homocysteine levels which lowers the risk of kidney diseaseheart strokesage-related hearing loss. Furthermore it contains a considerable amount of Copper attaining 25.67% of the Daily Value in a 100 g (3.5 Oz).