THIS WEEK, I took a walk on the wild side, and cooked fiddleheads. Fiddleheads are the fuzzy*, furled tips of the Ostrich fern (Matteuccia pennsylvianica). Their taste recalls asparagus to some eaters, and toasted hazelnuts to others (including me). They are available for only a few fleeting weeks in May, so you must get them while you can. I can tell you they are profoundly delicious when sauteed with garlic and butter.
Fiddleheads are so-named because their coiled shape resembles the curled end of a violin. Like morels, they are foraged from woodlands, not cultivated on farms. I’d say they are the perfect antidote to industrial, gmo-tainted food.
The best way to cook these elusive treasures is to blanch them first, then saute them with garlic in butter and olive oil. Pour this over a bed of brown rice fettuccine, top it with shaved or grated Parmesan, and you will have a masterwork of seasonal cuisine.
Ingredients for 2-4 servings
1/2 lb Fiddleheads
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
Parmesan Cheese, shaved or grated
Cleaning the Fiddleheads — Place them in a large bowl of cold water, and then swish them around to dislodge any brown, papery particles clinging to them. Drain.
Blanching — In a medium sauce pan, bring two quarts of water to a boil, and then blanch the fiddleheads for exactly 4 minutes. Drain on paper towels.
Sauteing — Heat butter and a glug of olive oil in a skillet until the butter has melted. Add garlic and fiddleheads. Saute, stirring frequently, for about 6 minutes, or until the garlic is brown and the fiddleheads are perfectly tender, but still firm to the tooth.
*In the comments, Laurie in Maine said I ought not to describe fiddleheads as “fuzzy”. She says only the smooth (not fuzzy), green ones should be picked.
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