“Fiddlehead.” What a whimsical name for a funny looking little vegetable. I love saying it; even funnier that when I hear it I am reminded of a line spoken near the beginning of Gone With the Wind by Scarlett O’Hara. Except I would like to think she might say today: “Fiddle-dee-dee, markets, markets, markets. All this talk of Farmers Markets are making me hungry! (Rather than her line about the war, of course!) Lucky for us we have many markets all over the country, and in particular our very own backyard of Westchester County. Many run indoors through the Winter and Spring, and in just around the corner will be in full force outdoors. I am simply beyond excited!
This week and next I’ll be talking about two very special ingredients that make a brief appearance once a year in the Spring: Fiddlehead Ferns and Ramps. Beautiful in appearance yet different in flavor; today we will be fiddling around with fiddleheads.
In selecting fiddleheads you want to look for a bright green appearance, smooth and free of dark spots. They should be green, fresh and firm looking; and the coils should look tight. Generally before they are sold the brown papery chaff that surrounds the fiddlehead on the plant is brushed off, but if not, you want to gently brush it off when you clean them.
To prepare them I like to give them a good wash in a couple of changes of cool water to remove any bits of dirt that might be lurking about and then trim the stem if longer than 2 inches. If you don’t think you will cook them as soon as you get them home store your fiddles in a plastic bag; but only for a day or two.
Fiddleheads are versatile and easy to use. They have a mild taste reminiscent of asparagus with an added nutty bite all their own. Fiddleheads are a good source of vitamins A and C, Omega 3 and 6, iron and fiber. Fiddleheads should not be eaten raw as they have a slight bitterness until cooked, and may cause you to have an upset stomach.
For more on fiddleheads and my recipe jump to my blog ....