Spotlight on Spring Produce: Fiddleheads!
Good morning all!
How are ya today? First of all, I loved reading all of your comments on yesterday’s post. Some of you have some absolutely delicious sounding potluck dishes! Maybe I should host one and invite you to attend?
This morning’s post is about a rather strange produce item that I’ve been checking out in the grocery stores lately. I thought about saving this for a Try Something New Tuesday, but since it’s spring-y, I decided to give them all the glory they deserve in a post of their own.
Spotlight on Spring Produce: Fiddleheads!
Never heard of them before? Neither had I until about a year ago, but I wasn’t as adventurous with my produce back then as I am these days. (Having encountered the Indian karela many Tuesdays ago, I figure I can do anything now.)
First things first: What are fiddleheads?
According to this source, they are the unfurled fronds of the ostrich fern. They’re called fiddleheads because the coily bit looks like a fiddle. Their season lasts from April to June, and they grow in areas of Ontario, New Brunswick, and Quebec along rivers and in woodlands. They’re picked when the coils are still tight, like this:
If they’re left any longer, they turn into ferns which are far less cool to look at. They can actually sprout up to 6 inches overnight. Talk about a growth spurt!
What do they offer in terms of nutrition?
Some sources tout the fiddlehead as a superfood, and that’s for a good reason too. They’re packed with fiber (7g in half a cup), vitamins A and C, and potassium. Fiddleheads also have anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties which provide a hefty boost to our immune systems.
How do you prepare them?
Ok, this is the part that sort of freaked me out. Apparently Health Canada advises that fiddleheads should be cooked very well before eating because eating raw ones can cause symptoms like nausea and diarrhea. (No thank you.) When I googled some cooking instructions, I learned that they should be boiled for 10 minutes or steamed for about 20. I steamed mine for 25 just to be on the safe side. But that wasn’t all I had to do. See, fiddleheads have some brown scaly bits that have to be removed, as well as a lot of dirt – even the kind in the supermarkets. I started by cutting off any brown bits, then rinsing them in a bowl of cold water, rubbing them with my fingers to get rid of the dirt.
Next, I removed the papery bits over the coils and threw them in the steamer basket over some boiling water. Twenty five minutes later, they looked like this:
Still a little skeptical, I mustered up my courage and popped one in my mouth to see what a fiddlehead tastes like on its own. The answer: a bit asparagus-y. They were quite soft, but the texture wasn’t far off of steamed asparagus. I didn’t intend to eat them all this way though because that would have been a little boring. I read over the weekend that fiddleheads are quite tasty in quiches and omelettes, so an omelette was what I made.
- olive oil (for misting pan)
- 1/2 cup fresh fiddleheads
- 1/2 cup bell pepper, chopped (mix up the colours to make it look pretty)
- ½ small red ripe tomato, seeded and chopped
- 1 small spring onion, cut diagonally into small pieces
- 1 egg + 1/2 cup egg whites
- 2 tbsp unsweetened almond milk (or other milk)
- 1 tbsp freshly chopped parsley
- sea salt and black pepper, to taste
Prepare fiddleheads by removing the brown scales, papery covering, and any dirt. To ensure fiddleheads are fully cooked and safe to eat, either steam for 20 minutes or boil for 10 in water.
Meanwhile, spray a non-stick skillet with olive oil. Add bell pepper, tomato, and the white parts of the spring onion. (Reserve the rest for garnishing). Switch heat on to medium and sautee the veggies until just soft.
In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, egg whites, almond milk, parsley, sea salt and black pepper. Pour the mixture into the frying pan and allow the bottom to set before setting the cooked fiddleheads on one half.
To ensure that the center isn’t runny, use a flipper to lift up the side and let any of the runny eggy bits flow underneath. When the majority of the omelette has set, flip the omelette in half.
Transfer it to a plate and sprinkle with the light green parts of the spring onion. Serve immediately.
Nutrition per serving: 179 calories, 6g fat (2g saturated), 211mg cholesterol, 299mg sodium, 10g carbs, 1g fiber, 4g sugar, 24g protein.
A little unsure as to what to top my omelette with, I opted for salsa. When is salsa ever not a good choice? That’s right. Never. So go on. Go find some fiddleheads at the market or at your grocery store and make this for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Just remember to pick up some salsa while you’re out, steam the fiddleheads really well, and call me if you fancy doubling the recipe and making two.
So tell me…
- Have you tried fiddleheads before? How did you use them?
- Have you come across any strange produce lately?