Fiddleheads are a seasonal treasure only available to us in the month of May. They quite literally are ferns that have not yet opened. In New England, we are lucky to have the right climate for these beauties.
Perhaps it is their exotic appearance, short window of availability, or their asparagus-like taste, but every time I see fiddleheads in the store I get so excited! The past few years, I’ve merely steamed them and then sautéed them with garlic, olive oil, and salt as a side dish. This year, while scooping these violin-shaped vegetables out of the bin at Whole Foods Market, I had a conversation with a man who was as enthusiastic as I was. He let me in on his secret that he puts fiddleheads with ziti or penne as a main course. As a vegetarian always on the lookout for a new dish, I had to try this.
I decided to make a pasta dish that would utilize the spring wonders that I have available in my garden: parsley, thyme, and chives.
spring fiddlehead pasta
1 box of penne pasta
1/4 cup of olive oil
2 cups of fiddleheads, washed well (with any brown spots removed)
2 tablespoons of fresh thyme leaves
1/4 cup of chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup of largely chopped chives, flower heads included
1/4 cup of cooking sherry (or white wine if that is what you have available)
6 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
Boil the pasta, rinse, and set aside. Steam the fiddleheads for 5 minutes. Drain the water, rinse, and steam for another 5 minutes. This will remove any bitterness that could occur.
In a large skillet, first boil the sherry solo for a few minutes. Then add the chives, thyme, olive oil, garlic, and parsley. Sauté for 2 minutes. Add salt and pepper. Toss with the pasta and fiddleheads.
I also had no idea chive flowers would taste so good. They almost remind me of capers.
If you are vegan, just leave as is. If you are vegetarian, you could sprinkle with a little parmesan cheese. Some additional ingredients that I think could taste delicious in this dish:
halved cherry tomatoes