Cardoons are a type of thistle in the sunflower family and are closely related to artichokes. They're also known as the artichoke thistle. But instead of eating the flower buds as with artichokes, the stems are the tasty part of cardoons. The spiny green stalks resemble a large bunch of celery, but don't break off a stalk and get snacking. Cardoons take some careful trimming and peeling, but they're worth the effort.
The stalks of cardoons look like giant celery, but they need to be pared and cleaned before they're cooked. Be very careful of the prickles that may be on the leaves and edges of the stalks. Wearing gloves while preparing cardoons will help protect your hands and also will prevent your fingers from becoming stained brown.