Springtime Fiddleheads


That’s right, I said fiddleheads.  Ever heard of ’em?  I hadn’t either until a couple of weeks ago when I learned that you can eat young ferns.  No way?!  Way.

Fiddleheads are the tightly coiled beginnings of new ostrich ferns.  They aren’t around for very long so if you’re interested in trying them, you’d better get to it before it’s too late.  They typically grow low to the ground in wet areas and begin to pop up when temperatures start rising in spring.  (Since some fern varieties are toxic, only forage for them if you know how to correctly identify them.)  I was lucky enough to find them this past weekend at the farmer’s market.

They have a similar texture to asparagus, but a taste all of their own.  When steamed they become a bit bitter, but boiling helps bring out their sweet flavor. They are also full of antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids.  Who knew all those nutrients could be packed into one little fern! 

To prepare your fiddleheads, begin by washing them thoroughly to remove any grit.  Snip off the brown ends and store in water until using.  I opted for a simple recipe with balsamic vinegar, but they can be used in place of broccoli or asparagus in any recipe or even used in place of basil in pesto. The possibilities are endless!  What fiddlehead recipes have you tried?

Fiddleheads with Balsamic Vinegar
Serves 2

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, sliced into halfmoons
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 pound of fiddleheads, washed and ends trimmed
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
freshly ground sea salt and black pepper

Add one tablespoon of olive oil to a pan over medium heat.  Add the onion slices and saute for 5 minutes or until onions are translucent.  Add garlic and saute for an additional minute. 

Meanwhile, boil fiddleheads for about 5 minutes, or just until tender.  Drain, then add to the pan with the onions and garlic.  Saute for another 2-3 minutes, until fiddleheads are tender but not mushy.  Add the balsamic vinegar.  Top with sea salt and black pepper to taste.

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  1. says

    These are gorgeous! I’ve never seen these until recently on some blogs. I’m intrigued and hope I can find some at my farmer’s market. I’m on the look-out! I love the simplicity of your preparation, really letting the fiddleheads speak for themselves. Looks fantastic!

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