Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Fiddle dee dee . . .

Fiddleheads, pancetta, garlic, shallots ~ oh my!

Fiddleheads!  Have you ever tried them?  They are abundant in Maine and throughout the North East!  Tides Head, New Brunswick refers to itself as the "Fiddlehead Capital of the World!"  

They range in price from $3.99 per pound to $15.99 per pound!  They are absolutely delicious! I tried them for the first time last year.  I have wanted to cook them forever but for some reason never got around to it until then.

Sauteing has begun! 

They have a delicious and curious taste, imagine the best asparagus and baby spinach you've ever eaten, now combine them together - yum!  They are high in antioxidants and Omega 3 & 6!  

This North East delicacy is only available for a few weeks in the Spring.  However, I've learned recently that I could preserve by pickling or freezing them.  I'll have to remember that for next year!

Red wine, roast chicken, sun-dried tomato rice pilaf & fiddleheads!

Sauteed Maine Fiddleheads

1 pound fiddlehead ferns
1 clove finely chopped garlic
1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot
1/4 cup pancetta, cut into cubes
Kosher or sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Juice from half a small lemon

Trim stem 1-2 inches from fern and wash the fiddleheads in a coarse strainer. Place them in a large bowl of water and swirl them around, rubbing off the thin flakes of chaff on the ferns. Drain and dry in a kitchen towel.

Heat saute pan over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring until lightly browned. Add ferns, garlic and shallot. Cook, covered for 3-4 minutes. Uncover and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes or until they are tender and have a slight crunch. Add salt and pepper to taste and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, toss with lemon juice. Serve immediately, and enjoy!

There is some controversy about the recommend cooking time. Health officials recommend 15 minutes if boiled and 10 to 12 minutes if steamed. The cooking method recommended by gourmets is to spread a thin layer in a steam basket and steam lightly, just until tender crisp.

I did not follow these recommendations, I followed Chef Justin Rowe's recipe from the Chebeague Island Inn that was published in a local Maine news paper, The Portland Press Herald on April 28, 2010.


  1. This is the first time I've even heard of Fiddleheads!! I'm curious now and wonder if I can find them in CA!

  2. Just like The Wife of a Dairyman said above me, this is the first time I've even heard of Fiddleheads! My sister loves fern as a plant to look at - I wonder whether she knows that it is actually edible.

  3. i love fiddleheads!! no chance in finding them over here in the uk....they remind me of summer spent in new brunswick and nova scotia...thanks!!! a little bit of home... :)

  4. I had no idea they even existed for eating, other than seeing them in the woods...

  5. I only heard very recently heard of eating the uncurled buds of ferns. I didn't know they were called Fiddleheads. I would love to try them x

  6. I've never heard of fiddleheads. How interesting!

  7. Oh... Ferns! Do you know what type of fern they are? I don't think we eat ferns here in the UK.

    Once had ferns in a noodle broth in Japan - I got really excited about tasting the ferns... the vegetarian I was with was so shocked about ferns in her soup she refused to eat it!!!


  8. Mmmmm, my favorite. But I have never frozen any. I just try to eat as many as I can for the few weeks they are available. My favorite way to eat them is just boiled with melted butter and a splash of vinegar. They go perfectly with salmon.

  9. I love fiddle heads and cook them very similar to your recipe above. It's great that they are rich in vitamins. Looks like you two had a very healthy supper.

  10. I've only seen them in pictures. I would love to give them a try. Great description. Makes me want to eat them even more now.

  11. I love fiddle heads and have eaten them for years. I just use a little butter and lemon mmmmmm I have never frozen them just eat all I can during season.

  12. These are on my list of things to eat before I die!

  13. Being a prairie girl, fiddleheads are not a delicacy I've ever been able to have. If nothing else, I love the name!

  14. Had them once, and haven't seen them since! Looks delicious with the pancetta, pancetta makes everything good :)

  15. There's a recipe in one of Susan Branch's books for these Mary...they loook divine! We don't get them here at all, but your description jumped off the screen & into my mouth...yum! xo

  16. I've just spent a few minutes browsing through your blog and just love all the new to me recipes and your dahlias are gorgeous. As for fiddleheads...definitely a new on me. Thanks for stopping by my blog and becoming a follower.

  17. Mary, I've been hoping you'd post a recipie of these as Kary told me you were cooking with them.
    If they are good with chicken I'm thinking they might be right too alongside a pork tenderloin.
    ferns grow wild here so I should be able to find a seller at the farmers markets.
    thanks so much!

  18. I saw fiddlheads last weekend, but had no idea how to serve them. This looks wonderful; can't wait to try and find some again.

  19. Mary I have yet to try fiddleheads as I don't see them offered here very often, and when I do they are so expensive! I love how you prepared them and now that I know how you describe them I won't hesitate to try them! Yum!

  20. I had no clue fiddleheads were edible....They look interestingly yummy!

  21. i see my julie here


    i loved seeing this, mary

    i am not too sure if we can get them here...i don't think i have seen them...julie had a good idea...try the farmers market....

    happy to visit here today, my friend

    sending love,
    kary and teddy

  22. Hey Mary,

    Love that you discovered fiddleheads! I am plopping a link to a post I did on them last year, as it has some information for those folks who think they can cut just any old fern ... no. Fiddleheads come from ostrich ferns ... read on...

    I saw them at the market last week and they were $5.oo a pound ... gulp! Surely a treat, though!

  23. I am totally fascinated by the fiddleheads Mary. They are like an alien species to me. How appealing they look.

  24. I have never seen them or tried them but I would love to be able to taste how good they are! I have read that you have to be careful what kind of fiddleheads you eat as some can be toxic, just like with mushrooms, so I don't dare to try picking my ferns at that stage.

  25. Back in the recesses of my mind I knew you could eat these, but I have never ever tried them. They just don't have them where I'm from - at least that I know of. (Uh-oh - I see you're in education and I know I ended that last sentence with a proposition - yes, I'm a teacher too, but I am one of the worst offenders for that particular grammar sin. BTW, what do you teach? Or do you do something else in education. I just stumbled upon your blog today.) They sound wonderful. I would love to try them!

  26. They sound like my perfect vegetable .... love the way you treated them too.

  27. Oh my, this sounds delicious! I've had fiddleheads but have never cooked them. Now I have to find some!

  28. Those fiddleheads look fantastic!! They are actually hard to find in New Jersey, but when we are up in Vermont in the Spring, we had them in restaurants.

  29. sounds divine..
    first time here..
    love your space..awesome posts..
    Am your happy follower now..:)
    do stop by mine sometime..
    Tasty Appetite

  30. I made them for the first time last week. I loved them, but wasn't entirely happy with the recipe OR the photo I took. Going to try yours the idea of pancetta.

  31. Wish I lived in the Northeast so I could try them,they sound so good. Love your new heading.

  32. Something I have never tasted~always room to try new foods!


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