Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Fiddleheads sauteed with garlic and bacon

Ferns are edible. Or at least, parts of them are. Who knew? I'd never heard of eating fiddleheads in Texas. From guajillos to fiddleheads. Quite a move.

According to the University of Maine, fiddleheads are the "young coiled leaves of the ostrich fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris)." They're considered a delicacy in northern New England. After we bought fiddleheads at Russo's yesterday, the little girls marched into the kitchen to announce that we had fiddleheads in our very own backyard. We could just pick them wild! Well, apparently not. Most ferns have fiddleheads, but the ostrich fern is distinguished by its papery brown covering. Good to know.

The University of Maine page also warns that the Centers for Disease Control have examined food-borne illness associated with fiddleheads. Although a toxin has not been isolated, it is advised that you should cook fiddleheads thoroughly before consuming them. Again, good to know. We really are walking on the wild side. Next week: preparing fugu sushi at home. (Just kidding.)

My eldest, Mr. Picky, proclaimed, "It looks disgusting, but it's delicious!" And promptly scarfed down two servings. Of course, you could argue that anything cooked with garlic and bacon is delicious. To which my smart boy countered, "What about sea cucumber?" Game. Set. Match. Mr. Picky.

Fiddleheads sauteed with garlic and bacon
(Adapted from a hodgepodge of online sources)

3 cups fiddleheads
1 tsp plus 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 strips bacon
2 Tbsp butter
1 garlic clove

Wash fiddleheads thoroughly, washing off the brown papery covering. Trim off brown ends.

Bring 1 quart of water to boil in a pot. Add 1 tsp of salt to water. Blanch fiddleheads in boiling water 5 to 7 minutes, until tender.

Meanwhile cook the two strips of bacon in a skillet until crispy. Move to a paper towel to drain. When the fiddleheads are tender, remove from the boiling water. Melt butter in the skillet and add the garlic, fiddleheads, 1/2 tsp salt, and pepper. Saute over medium heat for about five minutes. Crumble the bacon into the pan, stir together, and move to a bowl to serve.

Fiddlehead Ferns on FoodistaFiddlehead Ferns


  1. Now this is news! Very interesting, indeed. I just shared it on Facebook...because I think this is very share-worthy! :)

  2. Thanks! I'm so glad you think it's shareworthy! Remember to only eat ostrich fern fiddleheads. I've read that other ferns can be toxic. I guess it's like foraging for mushrooms!


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