I had heard of fiddleheads before, but never seen them in person. Suddenly they appeared at my local Union Market, and so despite the $15.99/pound price, I got a handful of them to try it out.
I went online to find a good recipe for them, and everyone had a different suggestion. I started to get a little worried, reading about the “muddy” taste that some people complained of. I eventually went with this Emeril Lagasse recipe for a fiddlehead fern pasta dish.
The one common denominator in all of the recipes is boiling the ferns ahead of time. I followed Emeril’s recipe and boiled them in salted water for five minutes, and then removed them to an ice water bath.
I sweated some shallots in olive oil, added the ferns, seasoned with salt, pepper, and a little bit of chili flakes. Then I added a few splashes of pasta water (I had the pasta cooking on a separate burner). Then I mixed the pasta and the ferns, cooked for another minute, and garnished with parmesan cheese.
The ferns were very good; they had a strong, not-quite-bitter vegetal taste. The outside was slightly crunchy but gave way to an interior that was almost slimy (in a good way). They didn’t match so well with the pasta, I think that if I decide to splurge on them again I will prepare them on their own, as a vegetable side dish.