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Cardoons in White Almond Sauce - Cardo con Salsa de Almendra

Almonds always make a good accompaniment for vegetables, either chopped or in a sauce. The following is a very common way of preparing cardoons in Navarre and in La Rioja and often forms part of the main Christmas menu in Spain. Cardoons are a stalky vegetable with a flavor between artichoke and celery. They are sometimes available in West Coast farmers markets -- the rest of us can make do by substituting artichoke hearts.

Makes 4 servings.

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

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2 large bottles of preserved cardoons (approx. 2 - 1/4 lb)
5 tbsp olive oil
4 oz sweet, raw, peeled almonds
3 garlic cloves
1 leek, preserved or fresh (in which case, use only the white part)
White pepper

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Drain the cardoons, reserving the liquid. Heat the oil in a deep frying pan, brown the garlic and the sliced leek, then remove. Crush both together with 3 oz almonds and some of the reserved liquid (1 1/4 cup). Beat well. Pour the sauce into the frying pan and heat gradually, stirring occasionally until it boils. Add a pinch of ground white pepper. Add the cardoons and the rest of the almonds after first crushing them in a mortar. Leave to cook over a low heat for a few minutes, stirring occasionally and adding more of the reserved liquid if necessary, depending on the thickness desired for the sauce.

Selected by Julia López de Sagredo
Recipe courtesy of Spain GourmeTour magazine.

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