My foraging for fiddlehead ferns this year was limited to the grocery store. When last I attempted to procure some of these New England springtime delicacies for my cooking pot I didn't realize that the coiled-up new growth of several different varieties of fern can be eaten, but that many varieties are inedible and may in fact be poisonous, so I was a frustrated forager.
This time a survey of my two competing supermarket chains a few weeks ago turned up a small amount of fiddlehead ferns at $4.99 a pound. They had already been wrestled out of their fuzzy jackets and are so beautiful with their architectural lines and cool green color, that I had to buy some to cook up for a lovely supper side dish.
I got a pot of salted boiling water going at full tilt, and then steamed the fiddlehead coils for ten minutes, until they were fork tender. I then served them simply with a pat of butter. They taste a bit like asparagus, but with a more grassy, earthy flavor, redolent of the odors of walking in a cool, mossy forest. My husband and kids were not enamored, however, and commented on their resemblance to a certain variety of garden pest.
No matter. I ate them all up and savored every bite. Fiddleheads are supposed to be very nutritious when cooked (don't eat them raw, as they have certain toxins that need to be boiled off in the cooking water) and they are certainly one of the most beautiful vegetables one can behold on the plate. I am sharing this discovery of a new and gorgeous vegetable with Simona of Briciole, who is this week's host of Weekend Herb Blogging, a blog event that explores cooking with herbs, vegetables, fruits and flowers. Weekend Herb Blogging is now in its fourth year and is headquartered at Cook (Almost) Anything At Least Once.