13 unusual fiddlehead recipes to try before it's too late



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Yesterday, we took a look at ramps — one of two vegetables that are in season in early spring for about point-nine-nine nanoseconds. The other one is the ostrich fern fiddlehead. If you're lucky, you'll find them in a farmers market or specialty grocer. But you can always forage for them yourself, as folks do to find ramps. Just take care to follow the harvesting guidelines, because there are several varieties of fern fiddleheads, one of which — the bracken fern fiddlehead — contain a carcinogen.

According to Food52, the ostrich fern fiddleheads are considered safest to eat. Look for young ferns, which will be very vibrant green, small, firm and tightly coiled. The older the fiddlehead, the more bitter it will taste, so skip ones that are starting to unfurl or look discolored.

When you're ready to prepare them — and they don't keep long — rinse them thoroughly, and then place them in a bowl of water so you can remove the brown papery covering. Unlike ramps, you should never consume fiddleheads raw. Indeed, raw and undercooked fiddleheads have been blamed for cases of food poisoning. Therefore, boil them for 15 minutes or steam them for 10 to 12 minutes before using them in the following 13 recipes. Are they worth all this trouble? Well, they are described as tasting grassy with a hint of nuttiness — think something between asparagus and young spinach. And they are also good sources of iron, antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids.


1. Fiddleheads in a Garlic Butter Lemon Sauce

Coco Bean and Me 

You'll want to have these poached eggs on asparagus and fiddleheads for breakfast, brunch or supper. Coco Bean and Me drizzled the asparagus and fiddleheads with a light butter, garlic and lemon sauce.


2. Fiddleheads, Green Olives and Almond Salad

The Healthy Foodie 

The Healthy Foodie let her fiddleheads get cold for this hearty salad. To avoid getting food poisoning, steam them for at least 10 minutes, and then plunge them in icy cold water to stop the cooking process and preserve that vibrant green color.


3. Thai Fried Fiddleheads

Eat Halifax 

Eat Halifax paired fiddleheads with chilies, garlic and shrimp paste — the basis of many a Thai dish. The crispy fried shallots make this a killer spring side dish. This dish is ready in just about 10 minutes, and couldn’t be easier… or yummier!


4. Crispy Baked Fiddleheads

The Gouda Life 

Sumac is a tangy, crimson-colored spice that’s added to many Middle Eastern dishes to give them a lemony kick. You can find it in some well-stocked grocery stores but otherwise, look in Middle Eastern markets for it. You'll need it for this mouthwatering recipe from The Gouda Life.


5. Sichuan Dry-Fried Fiddleheads

Fat of the Land 

Langdon Cook, the blogger behind Fat of the Land, loves Sichuanese dishes — the signature spicy cuisine from southwestern China. Cook particularly loves dry-fried string beans. He swapped the string beans for fiddleheads and prepared a similar dish that was better than he expected.


6. Fiddlehead Fern Curry


Natural Health  magazine featured this recipe for fiddlehead curry that still has our mouths watering. Serve over a bed of white rice.


7. Savoury Bread Pudding with Fiddleheads & Mushrooms


Featured on Food.com, this recipe takes bread pudding to a whole new level of ridiculously good. We honestly couldn't resist it.


8. Fiddlehead Ferns, Nettles and Ricotta Gnudi

Cannelle et Vanille 

Cannelle et Vanille combines fiddleheads with the equally hard to find nettles. So if you can't find nettles, you can use some spinach or omit it all together.


9. Fiddlehead and Gruyere Tart

Closet Cooking 

A fiddlehead and leek tart covered in melted gruyere on a light and flaky, golden brown phyllo crust? Yes, Closet Cooking.


10. Fiddlehead and Morel Stir Fry

The Earthly Delights Blog 

The combination of fiddleheads and morel mushrooms captures the essence of spring. The Earthly Delights Blog says you can use fresh morels, but recommends dried morels for their deep, smoky flavor.


11. Fiddlehead Fern and Artichoke Freekah Salad

A Stack of Dishes 

Freekeh is the latest superstar ancient grain making the rounds on foodie blogs and Pinterest. Its consistency is similar to wheat berries, but with a slightly less chewy texture. It's also a great alternative to quinoa if it isn't really your cup of tea. A Stack of Dishes points out that freekeh has fewer calories than quinoa and twice the fiber, and is a good source of calcium and iron. It seemed a natural pairing with fiddleheads for this salad.


12. Anyang Pakis (North Sumatran Fiddleheads with Spicy Grated Coconut)

Indonesia Eats 

Indonesia Eats points out that anyang can be made with any vegetables that you like, adding that North Sumatrans also love to add torch ginger flower (also known as bunga kecombrang, kincung, rias, honje or bongkot) to this dish.


13. Fiddlehead Frittata

Photo by James Ransom for Food52

This fiddlehead frittata featured on Food52 includes a bit of smoked salmon for a fabulous flavor combo.