It's that time of year for fiddleheads, the veggie that's named because they resemble the coiled head of a violin. They're actually the tops of baby ostrich ferns, and many people go foraging for them in the woods during this time of year. Since there are many types of toxic ferns, you want to be sure you're only choosing ostrich ferns. If you don't go picking for yourself, fresh fiddleheads can be found at farmers markets and grocery stores. Just to warn you, this pricey produce can run you $12 to $20 a pound or more.
Fiddleheads must be cooked well since they contain natural substances that can cause gastric distress if eaten raw or not cooked properly. Once prepared, this green veggie tastes like Spring to me. They have a unique earthy, woodsy flavor that's a cross between asparagus, artichoke, mushroom, cooked broccoli, and cooked spinach. Look for bright green fiddleheads with tightly coiled tops. You want only one to two inches of stem attached to the coil. Anything longer should be cut off.
If you're wondering how nutritious these circular plants are and how to prepare them then read more.
Fiddleheads must be cleaned before you eat them. Use your fingers to remove any of the brownish fuzzy or papery covering that may be remaining. Then rinse them in several changes of cold water to clean off any dirt or grit. Use them as soon as possible after harvest or purchase to ensure the best taste and texture.
When you're ready to cook them, place the fiddleheads in a pot of water and boil for about 10 minutes. Drain the water. Then transfer the fiddleheads to a pan and sauté in olive oil and freshly chopped garlic for another five minutes, or until the fiddleheads are soft. Don't overcook them, as they'll get mushy. Remove from the heat and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. You may also add fresh lemon juice or vinegar. Enjoy them on their own or add them to stir-fries, pasta, or other dishes. As you can see form the chart, they're low in calories, but a great source of potassium and vitamins A and C.
|1/2 cup raw||Fiddleheads|
|Total Fat (g)||0|
|Vitamin A (IU)||4,052|
|Vitamin C (mg)||29.6|