I picked up some fiddlehead ferns at Whole Foods last week for the first time, and now I just can't get enough of them. Imagine the best asparagus you've ever had, and then take away the bitter taste - that's what a fiddlehead tastes like. Plus, they're absolutely beautiful: they look like curled end of a stringed instrument (hence the name 'fiddlehead').
Fiddlehead isn't a specific type of fern; it refers to any young fern before the fronds have unfurled. Some types that are most commonly picked harvested for food are bracken, ostrich fern, and cinnamon fern. They've been known to cause food poisoning, so don't eat them raw! Try rinsing them with cold water and boiling or steaming them at least once for 12-15 minutes.
After rinsing and boiling my fiddleheads, I shocked them in cold water and sauteed them quickly (less than a minute) in olive oil, garlic salt, crushed red pepper, and a little lemon juice. I garnished them with grated asiago cheese...and devoured them all. (Oops...I meant to save half for the next day's lunch.) I was immediately addicted.
|Sauteed Fiddleheads (before adding asiago)|
I prepared them the same way as before, but this time I served them over some fresh pasta that I found at Whole Foods that was shaped just like fiddleheads! (I told you I was addicted.) I tossed the pasta with some basil pesto, and it all tasted great together.
|Sorry for the terrible cell phone photo, but I'm really excited about the pasta shape!|