Friday, March 30, 2007

Fiddlehead-Portobello Linguine

This is a simple way to serve fiddleheads. If fiddleheads are unavailable or out of season, asparagus or artichoke hearts could be substituted with good results.
It goes well with a simple salad, crusty bread.


1 pound fiddleheads, cleaned and trimmed
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion
1 large portobello mushroom cap
170g (6 ounces) oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes (approx)
half a box of linguine
1 tablespoon toasted pine nuts
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste


Slice the mushrooms, onions, and sun-dried tomatoes into long strips and set aside.

Sauté the ferns and garlic in the olive oil for about 5 to 10 minutes.

Add the onions and sauté until they start to wilt.

Add the mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes.

Continue to sauté for another 5 minutes or so.

Season with salt and pepper, toss in the pine nuts, add a splash of water, reduce heat and cover.

Let sweat for about 10 minutes (or so).

During this have the linguine begin to cook so that it is ready when the topping is ready.

In a pasta bowl, add the veggies to the linguine, sprinkle on the cheese, and toss.

Serve immediately.

About Fiddlehead :

Fiddleheads, also known as fiddle greens, are the coiled growing tips of ostrich ferns. They are more often available in spring.
The flavor is unique and vegetative, being somewhat like asparagus, green beans and artichokes. The texture is pleasantly chewy. Fiddleheads are reputed to be a good source of vitamins A and C.
Preparation is simple. The ferns should be rinsed and the stem ends trimmed before steaming, simmering or sautéing. They also can be pickled or eaten raw.
Fiddleheads should be eaten soon after purchase, although they may be stored for a few days, tightly wrapped, in the refrigerator, if need be.
Most of the greens sold as fiddleheads are immature ostrich ferns (Matteuccia struthiopteris) of northeastern North America, which are safe for most people to eat. However, if wild-gathered, care should be taken to ensure that the fiddleheads are ostrich ferns and not bracken (Pteridium aquilinum), which is considered carcenogenic. Fiddleheads must be broken off with the flick of the wrist and never cut, as cutting prevents the plant from regenerating.
In preparation for eating, the fiddleheads must be cleaned of their brown-colored silk, which resembles the inside skin of a roasted peanut, but is not tasty. This is most easily accomplished with the aid of a garden hose, and some sort of screening device.
Blanching the fiddleheads is a must if they are to be frozen (which the recommended way of storing them, for up to eighteen months) and is also preferable if they are to be eaten immediately. This removes the bitterness from the plant, which can cause stomach upset for some. Blanching is done is by bringing the cleaned fiddleheads just to a boil in a large pot of water, and then immediately rinsing them and disposing of the water. One will notice that the water has turned black.
After the rinse, either return them to the pot (with fresh water) to resume cooking, or plunge them in ice cold water to stop the internal cooking process, and then place them in freezer bags, and then into the freezer.
Cooked fiddleheads are done when they have lost their crunchiness, but not become soggy. This is al dente cooking. Served with real butter, and salt, some people also like to add a little cider vinegar. Their subtle flavor interpolates between sweet, mild asparagus and an un-bitter version of cooked baby spinach.

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