What Are Fiddlehead Ferns?
Every May, you may start to notice fiddleheads at the farmer's market. As the name suggests, these green veggies have a curled shape that resembles the top of a fiddle or violin. They are a good source of iron and fiber and make for a striking vegetable dish. Fiddleheads are also an excellent source of vitamins A and C.
Fiddlehead ferns are often described as having a flavor and texture similar to asparagus, and consequently they are prepared similarly. Simple preparation techniques, like boiling, tossing with olive oil and salt, and serving with a fresh squeeze of lemon juice, lend themselves well for this particular vegetable.
When you’re shopping for fiddleheads, choose ones that are tightly curled at the top and have a vibrant green color. When not fresh, the coils will become mushy and the color will brown.
These whimsical veggies need to be cooked, as certain varieties are not safe to eat raw. Fiddleheads can be foraged, but it’s best to get them from the farmers’ market or someone who is able to distinguish which are edible.
If you pick some up, here is a great recipe to get you started!
Spring Risotto with Fiddleheads and Asparagus
1 yellow onion, diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1.5 cups arborio rice
2/3 cup white wine
4–6 cups vegetable broth
1 pound asparagus, washed and trimmed
1 pound fiddleheads, washed
1 cup frozen peas
2 cups baby spinach
1 lemon, juiced
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast or parmesan
Dash of cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional: fresh mint and basil leaves for garnish
1. Add onion and olive oil to a large soup pot. Stir over medium heat until onion becomes translucent.
2. Rinse rice and add to pot. Toast lightly for 1–2 minutes. Add white wine and stir until liquid evaporates. 3. In a separate soup pot, gently heat the vegetable broth. Once warm, add two cups to the rice pot and stir until liquid is absorbed.
4. Continue to add one cup at a time until all liquid is absorbed and rice is cooked to a slight al dente.
5. Blanch asparagus and fiddleheads in salted boiling water for about five minutes.
6. Once rice is cooked to satisfaction, stir in asparagus, fiddleheads, peas, and spinach.
7. Add lemon, nutritional yeast/parmesan, cayenne, and salt and pepper to taste.
8. Optional: Serve with fresh mint, basil, and a drizzle of olive oil.