Burdock is one of those wild edible plants I see everywhere in the Ozarks. It is widely distributed throughout North America. It is largely considered a weed to be eradicated in lawns and flowerbeds. However, this is an amazing “weed” that is chock full of many vitamins and minerals; and it tastes good too.
What is Burdock?
Burdock (Arctium lappa) is native to Japan. It is naturalized all over the world now. It is called gobo in Japanese. The root is considered food and is edible. If you want to know more about using the root as a wild edible be sure and check out our article on using burdock root in a stir-fry. In rocky areas such as the Ozarks, the roots can be almost impossible to dig from the ground without breaking them. An alternative is to buy seeds online and grow them in pots. Let them grow the first year and then dig them up in the summer of the second year before the plants flower.
The above-ground parts are also used as wild edibles. The stems and leaves are both edible too. The stems are what we are going to use in this recipe. The leaves can be bitter when they get large, so if you want to use the leaves you should gather the small leaves, as they will be less bitter. Another use for the larger leaves is to use them to wrap food for cooking over a campfire.
*Warning – Before attempting to consume any wild edibles be sure you can make a proper identification. Young burdock can look like Foxglove, which contains digitalis and other cardiac glycosides, and is toxic. Burdock leaves can also be confused with rhubarb. The old adage applies here – “when in doubt, spit it out”. If you are unsure get a good field guide to identification or take someone knowledgeable of wild plants with you to help you learn to identify them.
Carduni is a traditional Italian dish made with the stems of the carduni plant native to Italy. It also has various spellings such as gardoni and cardune. It is made from the young tender stalks of carduni. Since the plants are very similar, immigrants from that region began using burdock stalks in the traditional dish when they arrived in America.
When I found this recipe online I was eager to try it. I hate wasting food when wild foraging. Most people who use the burdock root might just discard the stems and leaves. But they are also edible and shouldn’t be thrown away if you can use them.
For this recipe we use the stems, but you can also use the smaller leaves if you boil them twice to remove some of the bitterness. I found that the stems aren’t bitter at all when boiled and then simmered until tender. I will be using the stems in this recipe.
You can watch the video below to see how I made this dish, or you can continue reading.
Gathering Burdock Stems
Once you have found and identified that you definitely have burdock you can begin gathering your stems. Using a knife or shears cut a few stems from each plant as close to the root as possible. I use a pair of EMT shears to cut the stems because they can be a little tough.
This recipe calls for 4 cups of stems cut into pieces. You can adjust the recipe accordingly to make the right amount for the number of people in your household. If you gather too much you can just freeze the extra for later use.
Once you have your stems and leaves bring them back home and clean them. If you aren’t going to use the leaves they can be added to your compost pile. But remember the leaves are edible too, they just may be too bitter for some tastes without some extra preparation.
Preparing the Stems
To prepare the stems cut them just below the leaves and wash them thoroughly to remove any dirt or other debris that might be clinging to the stems. Cut them into small chunks much like you would cut up celery.
Next, place them in a pan with water covering them and bring to a full boil. Reduce heat and simmer until tender. Remove from heat, drain, and allow the stems to cool while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
Prepare the Other Ingredients
Beat 9 eggs in a mixing bowl. In a separate bowl place 2 cups of cracker or bread crumbs. Either will work for this recipe. I used cracker crumbs for this recipe. Add 1-2 cups of chopped green onion to the crumbs. Add your favorite Italian seasonings to the crumbs and stir them together. Once you have the ingredients prepared add the eggs and dry ingredients to the burdock stems and stir the mixture together until mixed well.
Cooking Your Burdock Carduni
Now it’s time to cook your delicious carduni. Place olive oil in a pan and heat over medium heat until hot. Next, spoon the mixture into the hot oil and brown on one side, then flip the carduni to brown the other side. Remove the carduni from the oil when done and place on a platter with paper towels to drain any excess oil. When done, your carduni will look like the photo below.
Recipe for Burdock Carduni
- 4 cups cooked, cooled burdock stems
- 9 eggs
- 2 cups bread or cracker crumbs
- chopped green onion
- sprinkle with Parmesan cheese
- Seasonings (Italian seasoning, basil, salt, pepper, and garlic if desired)
Prepare as described above. You can eat it as is, or you can make a sandwich and sprinkle parmesan cheese on top. Add hot sauce, or my favorite, marinara sauce and enjoy.