It’s hard to describe fiddleheads without using the word “cute.” Every time I see these little green ferns rolled up in tight little spirals, I think of our cat Brandy curled up in her chair. They feel both green and cozy at the same time, which is just the way nature intended spring to feel.
Eating these miniature spirals is great fun because you get a little crunch from the stem and tenderness from the leafy part. Although they look unlike any other vegetable you might pick up in the store, you cook them the same way as asparagus, green beans, or any other green vegetable.
- Start by snapping the ends of the stems. They get brown very quickly after being snapped, so do this shortly before cooking your fiddleheads.
- Put fiddleheads in a large bowl with cold water and rub gently with your hands. This will separate the dried up brown leaves. Scoop fiddleheads out with a slotted spoon.
- Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and prepare a bowl with ice water.
- Add fiddleheads and a squirt of lemon juice to boiling water and cook for 2-3 minutes (just until fiddleheads lose the grassy taste, but still remain crunchy). This is called blanching.
- Using a slotted spoon, remove fiddleheads to a bowl of ice-water and let them cool completely, about 2 minutes.
- Drain fiddleheads and dry on paper towels.
At this point, you can add them to soups and salads, or sauté them in a pan with butter and garlic for an awesome side dish. If you are willing to plan ahead, you can marinade them in some lemon vinaigrette for a few hours or overnight. This makes them taste almost pickled.
Today, my little fiddleheads ended up in a bowl with tuna, cranberry beans, celery, cilantro, shallots, arugula, and anchovy vinaigrette.