Those of you familiar with eating fiddleheads, were completely unphased by the title of this post. The uninitiated among you, most likely said “Huh, what the heck weird stuff is she trying to convince me to eat now”.
The weird stuff is Fiddlehead fern fronds. Trust me they are not really all that strange, and have been popular culinary fare for centuries in Asia and the Northern regions of France. Here in New England they are an old Yankee staple. Forgotten by the “city folk”, but still popular in rural Northern New England and adjoining Canada.
Pickled fiddleheads are popular in the area of Vermont friends of mine had a vacation house. I rarely went up there without returning home with a few jars. Although I do prefer them fresh, the season for fiddlehead ferns is quite short. You have the catch them shortly after they emerge from the soil… hence, pickled is the best you can get most of the year. This is why I was both surprised and pleased to find fiddlehead fern fronds at my local Whole Foods a few days ago. It is a little late in the season, these must have come from way up in the chilly north.
If you enjoy asparagus, you are highly likely to enjoy fiddlehead fronds as well (perhaps even better). When you see these in your local grocer, don’t be shy, they are not difficult to cook at all. Just keep in mind that the fern fronds cook quicker and are a bit more delicate in texture than asparagus. One of my favorite ways to cook them is teamed with shrimp in a scampi sauce over pasta, but today, I decided to share a very easy fiddleheads recipe, that I make sometimes . It is a simple fiddlehead fern saute.
- 1 lb Fiddlehead Fern
- 1½ tbs butter
- 1 -2 clove garlic (crushed/minced)
- 4-5 sprigs of fresh lemon thyme (standard thyme will do if that is all you have available)
- 2 tbs chicken stock (or 2 tbs white wine and ¼ tsp of Kosher salt)
- Rinse the ferns and trim off browned ends.
- Place skillet over medium heat. Melt butter, then add the garlic and ferns. Saute until garlic is cooked through.
- Add wine or stock, cover and cook ferns for 6-7 minutes, until tender, but not completely limp.
- Serve as a side as is, or with a light squeeze of lemon.