Up until just recently I really knew nothing about fiddleheads. I'd heard of fiddleheads, but I don't think I'd ever actually seen one, let alone eaten one. What can I say? I'm from California and live in Pennsylvania. Those are not fiddlehead states.
Now that I'm summering in Maine, fiddleheads have become something that I see (and eat) regularly. I see a lot of them because they are, quite literally, growing everywhere. On my morning walk, there they are growing in the wild amongst the ferns at the side of the road. At farmer's markets, there are massive piles of fiddleheads, just waiting to prepared. Clearly, Maine is a fiddlehead state.
For the uninitiated amongst you, fiddleheads are the curled fronds of the ostrich fern plant. They are bright green in color and taste a little like asparagus, but are sweeter and grassier. They are in season for just a month or two in April and May, so if you're interested, you'll have to wait until next year.
The best thing about fiddleheads, beside their name (which is so adorable), and their delicious taste, is that they are sinfully easy to prepare. Truly. Quickly blanch the fiddleheads in boiling water and then sauté them in a little olive oil and garlic and you have a side dish that'll make your tastebuds dance. (I couldn't pass up on the musical pun. Sorry.)
Recipe: Sautéed Fiddlehead Ferns
3 cups fresh fiddlehead ferns, ends trimmed
3 tablespoons unfiltered extra-virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook fiddlehead ferns in the boiling water until barely tender, 7 to 10 minutes; drain.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in the prepared fiddlehead ferns, garlic, and the salt and pepper. Cook and stir until ferns are tinged lightly brown and tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and sprinkle with lemon juice.