Fiddleheads have a unique flavor that reminds you they have just come up from the soil. That earthy goodness found in few other vegetables, a taste easily comparable to tender young asparagus. They're a delicacy in many parts of the world, especially my corner in western NY. Sure, sometimes you can find them in specialty grocery stores for a price, but some of us get lucky. We can harvest our own.
Fiddleheads with Walnuts & Fennel
1 cup fiddleheads
1 tsp fennel seeds
2 Tbsp walnuts, crushed
2 Tbsp coconut oil
coarse black pepper
Start by lightly crushing your fennel seeds in a mortar and pestle. If you don't have one, the back of a spoon and a cutting board will suffice. You don't want to grind them up, just bruise them up a bit.
Heat your oil in a pan on medium heat and add the fennel seeds. Cook them until they get nice and aromatic. Add your walnut pieces and get them nice and lightly toasty too. Add your fiddleheads and saute just until they're tender. Sprinkle with cracked pepper and salt to taste.
There are a lot of ways to season fiddleheads, so use whatever you like. They're really easy to make. One of the easiest methods is to lightly coat them in olive oil and roast them in the oven. This morning I sauted half a cup of them in some bacon drippings. Get creative with them. You really can't mess them up.
Baby Robin Update:
My eggs hatched! Well, not MY eggs, but Mama Robin's eggs. We now have four featherless, wonky little peepers. They really are quite ugly, and yet you can't help but to say "Aww..."
Obviously this little one was hungry. I still almost never see Mama or Papa, though one of them did almost fly into my head as I came up the stairs in the dark one night. I decided next time I should give them fair warning that I'm approaching.
As vegetables go, fiddleheads are superior to nearly everything you'll find in a grocery store. They're loaded with antioxidants, largely due to the fact that they grow wild and must protect themselves from their environment. Fiddleheads often contain twice the antioxidant power of blueberries, which are considered the gold standard for neutralizing free radicals. That must mean nutritionally, fiddleheads are platinum. Add to that their high levels of omega-3 fats. You just can't go wrong!
One small word of warning though. Don't eat fiddleheads raw. They may contain natural substances that can cause gastric distress if not cooked properly. To be on the safe side, only eat cooked fiddleheads. When they're properly cooked, any toxins that may be present are destroyed. Fiddleheads should be boiled prior to sautéing, frying or baking. I typically blanch them for 3 minutes and then soak in an ice bath right after picking. From that point they can be frozen or cooked.
I decided to do something a little bit different with some of my fiddleheads. Sure, roasting them is great, but I wanted to play with flavors.