Monday, May 14, 2012

Roasted Fiddlehead Ferns with Balsamic Vinegar and Parm

It's time for more seasonal foraged favorites. For the next few weeks, fiddlehead ferns are in!  Fiddlehead ferns are the edible tops of ostrich ferns, though care should be taken with them. They can't be eaten raw because of a toxin present that causes some GI distress. So really, no matter how adorable they are, resist the impulse to pop them into your mouth raw.

These little lovelies have a taste that is reminiscent of asparagus and green beans. Cooked just right, they are tender and delicious. The usual preparations are to steam or boil them, sometimes par-boiling and blanching them and sauteeing in olive oil or butter with garlic. Quite often, the simplest preparations are among the most satisfying, so the pure flavor shines through.

I wanted to try something different with these. They really are quite similar in taste to asparagus, and my absolute favorite way to have asparagus is roasted, so I thought I'd give that a try with these fiddleheads. I did like I often do with asparagus and finished them with a light drizzle of balsamic and some shaved parm, and bliss! The three flavors worked beautifully together.

Roasted Fiddlehead Ferns with Balsamic Vinegar and Parm

  • 1 lb. fiddlehead ferns
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • vinegar
  • shaved parm

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 F and line a roasting pan with a sheet of parchment paper.
  2. Wash the ferns very well, making sure to rinse off all of the brown papery scales. Pat dry carefully between two paper towels.
  3. Place in a bowl and drizzle with some olive oil. For a full pound of fiddleheads, I used about 1-1/2 tablespoons of olive oil. Toss to coat well.
  4. Lay them out on the pan and sprinkle with some salt and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes, then  drizzle with balsamic vinegar and top with shaved parm.

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