I made a culinary discovery in my very own backyard!
Let me preface this by saying that we had just moved into a new place in December, and we weren’t sure what to expect from our new patch of land. Since spring first sprung, we have been delightfully watching new baby plants pop up everywhere. And, about two or three weeks ago, we noticed that we had tiny fern babies sprouting up all over the place. While I immediately admired them for their curly adorableness, I never once thought to eat them. What kind of food blogger am I? Shameful…
But yesterday, for some reason, I had an epiphany: those little curly baby ferns sure did look a lot like the one’s on Vegan Yum Yum’s site last year about this time- and they also look very similar to the one’s we saw at Whole Foods last weekend. Hmmm….
A quick Google search (not recommended unless you are totally familiar with wild edibles and/or have a reliable guide) told me that my backyard was full of exactly those gourmet treats: a delicacy referred to as Fiddlehead Ferns. Cool!
It also told me that we were just catching the very end of Fiddlehead season. Damn.
Fiddleheads are the teeny fronds of young ferns before they have unfurled. There are a few varieties, but in our case, we have Ostrich Ferns. They are best enjoyed when just two inches tall. I recommend reading Ms. Yum Yum’s very well written explanation if you are curious about them. Our fern sprouts were a tad bigger than desired, although there were still a few stragglers scattered about. Score!
Despite our late harvest this year, I am excited to know that come this time next year… we will have Fiddleheads a plenty.
Depending on where you live, you may still be able to catch some Fiddleheads in your neck of the woods (literally) or at your local Whole Foods or similar store. If not, top this creamy pasta with your favorite sauteed veggie and get prepared for next year’s forage!
And, if you do decide to go out and hunt for your own Fiddleheads, use common sense and some caution… there are definitely some not so yummy look-a-likes out there. Just warning you…
White Pasta with Fiddleheads
1) Cook pasta according to package directions. Once pasta has finished cooking (rinse with cold water if using gluten free), drain and return it back into the pot. Salt lightly and drizzle with olive oil. Toss and set aside.
2) In food processor combine tofu, lemon juice, salt, and olive oil into a food processor. Blend until smooth.
3) Rinse and clean your Fiddleheads. I ran mine under cold water and washed gently to remove their paper-y like covering. Saute in about 3 tbsp Earth Balance until tender. Salt lightly and set aside.
4) Combine your sauce with the cooked pasta and warm up over low heat just until hot. Divide into bowls and sprinkle with fresh cracked black pepper. Top with sauteed Fiddleheads and serve hot.
Most of these ferns are too big for good eatin’. But as you can blurrily see, there are still a few little Fiddleheads remaining.
I think they are exceptionally beautiful in their adolescence.
Here are a few (much larger) ferns growing along one of our sheds.
We also sauteed up some of the larger Fiddleheads and found them to be very tasty.