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Apr 25, 2010 02:29 PM

What should I do with these fiddlehead ferns?

My local Fresh Market had fiddlehead ferns today. Intrigued, I bought some, but I have no idea what to do with them. I've been told I'll need to use them quickly. Can anyone give me some ideas or inspiration? Thanks!

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  1. I would saute, especially with morels, with some shallot, maybe a little cream. Eat with a grilled meat..

    1. Just be careful you cook them sufficiently.

      See the link about potential fiddlehead poisoning from a toxin not destroyed by light cooking methods,

      1 Reply
      1. re: trouttr

        Oh, crap, I did NOT know that and just fed them to my family last week without a thought about done-ness!!! Fortuntely, we all lived. Whew. Thank you SO much for the warning & info!

        Hi Cindy! Yeah, I just got them too - @ Kimberton Whole Foods last wk & noticed them there again the day before yesterday. $9.95/lb. I treated them like string beans, more or less: steamed them lightly, then tossed them in olive oil with salt & pepper. They were sort of... aggressively bland when just steamed, but with a light saute in the olive oil/salt/pepper mix, it brought out a certain nuttiness. I also read that a sprinkle of lemon juice is good and after eating them, I think I'd like that, too.

      2. I've cooked a lot of fiddleheads in my life. I've messed with lots of different recipes - but finally settled on one method of preparing them to avoid any bitterness or that overly almost acidic flavour they can sometimes have. First rinse them very well in several changes of water. Generally I fill a sink with cold water, swish the fiddles around and pick them out of the water, leaving the brown bits behind. You may have to do this a couple of times to get them clean. Next, bring a pot of water to a boil. Throw in the fiddles, bring back to a boil for a minute or two and drain completely. After this you can use them in any recipe you like. I usually sautee them with butter or olive oil, salt and pepper. Garlic and/or lemon if I feel like it. Or throw them into a pasta dish or risotto.

        The boiling step removes a lot of the raw bitter flavour - the water will become quite dark. I can't tell you what's going on there but whatever it is, it works for me.

        Enjoy. I'll be checking my patch tomorrow.

        1. I blanch them, then saute in butter with garlic, season them and hit them with a squirt of lemon. I think they taste a bit like a combo of asparagus/green beans.

          You can combine the blanched ferns with a thin pasta, like spaghettini, olive oil, fresh thyme and grated parmesan, or in a combo with asparagus and favas. You can also combine cooked fiddleheads with tomatoes, thinly sliced red onion, roasted red peppers and crumbled goat cheese. Dress with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

          Here's a link for a fiddlehead fern and morel risotto, from Yankee Mangazine in New England, where they know their fiddleheads:

          1. Blanch or par-steam them, then saute with lots of onion and bacon. Depending on the size you cut them into and the ratio of fern to bacon and onion, it can stand on its own as a side dish, or can pair well with pasta.

            They're not something I really go out of my way for, but they look cool. There are just lots of better-tasting, much cheaper vegetables out there, in my book.

            1 Reply
            1. re: dmd_kc

              Seconded. I've done this before with fresh fettuccine, pancetta instead of bacon, cherry tomatoes and lots of parmesan and butter. Very delicious!