Aren’t these fun looking? If Tim Burton designed a spring vegetable, it would be the fiddlehead fern. I love the way they look! But how do they taste, you ask? If you like artichokes and asparagus, you will like the taste of fiddlehead ferns. They are only available in the spring because they are literally baby ferns. If left on their own they would grow into a big fern. Crazy, eh? So what do you do once you have brought this strange yet lovable vegetable home? Read on!
If you don’t have spring garlic for this recipe (it is usually available around the same time of year), no big deal. Just use scallions or green onions instead.
FIDDLEHEAD FERNS WITH SPRING GARLIC AND LEMON
½ lb. fiddlehead ferns, washed per method below
1 T. plain salt for blanching
1 T. olive oil
3 spring garlic, scallions or green onions, sliced (green parts only)
1 clove garlic, pressed
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
Freshly ground pepper
Large sauté pan with cover
To wash the fiddlehead ferns: You’ll see they come covered with brown fuzz. Cute, but you want to remove this. Place the ferns in the colander, run cold water over them, and rub with your fingertips to remove the brown fuzz. Trim away any brown ends and give them a final rinse.
To blanch the fiddlehead ferns: Fill your large sauté pan with water (up to 1″ from the top) and 1 T. of plain salt (you can use non-fancy salt for this, and don’t worry that it seems like a lot, you will be draining most of it away). Bring water to a boil. Add the ferns, stir, cover and blanch (= continue boiling) for 2 minutes. Drain into colander and immediately rinse with cold tap water to stop the cooking.
To sauté the fiddlehead ferns: Dry your sauté pan. Add the olive oil and heat over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the garlic and sauté for about 30 seconds (only until you can smell it – do not let it turn dark brown). Add blanched and drained ferns, stir to coat with oil, cover and cook for 2 minutes.
Remove the cover (the ferns should be bright green) and stir over the heat one last time. Turn off the heat, then sprinkle with the lemon juice. Taste for salt, and season with more sea salt and freshly ground pepper if you like.
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