Early spring is rich with the spirit of vitality and new growth. Green shoots burst forth from an awakened soil, as cellular energy moves skyward. Many of the plants that are too bitter to eat later in the season, are tender and sweet in this early growth stage, and packed with nutrients.
One favorite wild food that I discovered last year were baby burdock leaf stems. Burdock root is known by herbalists as an alterative herb, or blood cleanser and can be used to reboot our digestive systems after a sluggish winter, (amongst its many other uses). The root has an affinity for the liver, and is a classic herb included in digestive bitter blends.
As a wild food, its also most well known for its root, which is delicious when roasted or added to soup, but the leaf shoots are something that you can only eat at this time of year.
It’s still a little early to consider the leaf stems just yet, as the young burdock leaves are only just within sight, but in a week or two, when the stems are longer, they will be ready to harvest. I found them last year in Union Square farmer’s market in NYC, so either take the time to harvest the leaves in a woodland area out of the City, or keep an eye out for them in your local farmer’s market. They will likely be sold with a young root too.
Burdock Leaf Stalk Burgers
3-4 young burdock stems
1/3 cup of chopped scallions, chives or wild onion
4 chopped shiitake mushrooms
1 ½ TBL freshly ground flax seed
½ garlic clove
1 ½ TBL coconut flour
2 teaspoons of tamari
2 teaspoons of nutritional yeast
¼ cup of fresh chopped dill
¼ cup of fresh lovage leaves, or celery leaf tops
3 cups of cooked adzuki beans
1 teaspoon miso paste
2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
Avocado oil or grassfed ghee for cooking.
Start by blanching the burdock stems, (without leaves) in simmering salted water for 8-10 minutes, until softened. Chop and taste a bit off the cooked stem to make sure they are not too chewy.
Note: If the stems are wider than ½” they may be too tough to use, unless the outer ridges have been peeled.*
Saute the scallions and garlic, and add in the mushrooms. Pour on the apple cider vinegar, cover with a lid and allow to cook for a few minutes before adding the chopped lovage leaves, the cooked adzuki beans, ground flax, and other seasonings.
Mix the miso paste with enough water so that it is easy to blend into to the burdock mixture, and finally, after the mixture has cooled, add in the coconut flour to bind it all together.
When you are able to shape the mixture into patties, finish by coating the burgers in more seasoned coconut flour. I was lucky enough to have dandelion and chive flowers to add to the mix, when I made these, for additional flavor and color, but these additions are not essential.
Shallow fry in a 2 teaspoons of your oil of choice for five minutes on each side. Serve hot or allow to cool and freeze for future use.
They are delicious, so I do hope you give them a try.
If you are interested to learn more about Spring foraging, or other classes please visit our current class listings here.