Warm Fiddlehead Salad Recipe

My heart races and my face feels flushed when I see unique ingredients that have short seasonal lives at the public market. I will eventually write a post about Granville Island Public Market to entice you all to move to Vancouver. I jump on those opportunities and even over-do it sometimes (e.g. mangoes?! Still eating several everyday). So when I saw fiddleheads, I knew my dinner menu had to make room.
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Fiddleheads are baby ferns that have not unrolled into a full plant yet and are in season for only several weeks a year. They are delicate, earthy, and have a similar texture to a hybrid of young string bean and gai-lan (if that helps at all…).

For dinner that night, I had a Japanese chef trained in Japan and Lumière’s pastry cook over for dinner. No jokes. Talk about intimidation. Worse yet, the pastry cook saw the fiddleheads and recalls once having food poisoning after eating some that were not prepared properly. Yikes. Yes, there are mild toxins in fiddleheads but they dissipate once they are fully cooked. To prevent any trouble, I always blanch them first. They hold their texture well so don’t worry about them becoming mushy (unless of course, you boil them to death). As with all fresh ingredients, I like to keep the preparation simple to fully exhibit its properties.
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Young fiddleheads (hand-pick the most tender ones and trim the ends)
Minced garlic (I used a ridiculous amount but it’s up to your liking)
Dijon Mustard
Parmesan cheese
Whole walnuts
Olive oil
s&p to taste
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I found Cape (edit) gooseberries too! *beam* I popped them into my mouth like candy while I cooked.


Blanch fiddleheads in rolling, heavily salted water for one minute. Drain and submerge them in an ice bath to retain texture and colour.
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Heat a sauté pan with some olive oil over medium heat. Add fiddleheads, garlic, and mustard and heat through until the garlic is cooked and fragrant. Season with s&p.
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Remove from the heat, grate on lemon zest, sprinkle with lemon juice, and garnish with Parmesan shavings and walnuts.
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  1. May 07, 2009 by jenn

    Ooo…Never head of fiddlehead. Looks like a green snail that’s flat. LOL. Interesting.

  2. May 07, 2009 by Heather @ chik n' pastry

    Hi Mel – these little buggers look so neat! I’ve heard of them but never cooked with them. I’ll be on the lookout for sure ;)

    ps – glad you got the IE thing fixed!

  3. May 08, 2009 by Daily Spud

    Never eaten them but I’d so like to try!

  4. May 08, 2009 by krissy

    i love your website. it’s clean, fresh, and the pictures are great! you chose a great book to cook from. looking forward to your future entries! please check out when you get a chance. thanks!

  5. May 08, 2009 by Stumptown Savoury

    This salad looks delicious. Saw some fiddleheads at the Portland Farmers Market a couple of weeks ago. If there are any there tomorrow, I’ll do this salad.

  6. May 08, 2009 by Danica

    What a fun food! I have never heard of Fiddleheads but love the name and the look. The meal you prepared looks delish!

  7. May 08, 2009 by RavenousCouple

    mildly poisonous…wow, talk about pressure.. maybe you can try Fugu next :)

  8. May 08, 2009 by nina

    I have never had fiddleheads, but it sure looks tempting!!!

  9. May 09, 2009 by RK

    I’ve picked fiddleheads out of that same bucket at Granville Island. In fact, I was just there today!

  10. May 09, 2009 by Rico

    Wow don’t know that green looks very unusual and delicious, really does… :) xx Rico-Recipes

  11. May 09, 2009 by doggybloggy

    beautifully done – I have only had fiddleheads a couple of times and I look forward to having them again…this sald looks delicious!

  12. May 09, 2009 by Jan @ Pantry Connection

    I recently discovered fiddleheads and instantly became a huge fan. I’ve stuck to very simple applications but am ready to be adventurous with them! Glad that they are in season now! The blend of fiddleheads, mustard and garlic sounds delicious. I’m adding this salad to my “must try” list!

    Jan ~ Founder,

  13. May 09, 2009 by Sock Monkey

    I love fiddleheads, and this is the season for them. That dish looks sooooooo good.

  14. May 09, 2009 by Sgfoodlover

    hello dropping by very nice and clear shots like your pictres ha!

  15. May 09, 2009 by Patty Gironda

    Great looking post! I enjoy fiddleheads and your preparation looks fabulous!

  16. May 09, 2009 by Tangled Noodle

    I have never had fiddleheads before – this looks amazing. I love how the walnuts provide a contrasting texture to the tenderness of the greens. I was just at the Mpls farmer’s market this morning but didn’t see anything like these. 8-(

  17. May 09, 2009 by Kay

    Looks good ! Never tried tho..

  18. May 09, 2009 by Deborah

    Love fiddleheads. Can’t wait to try this recipe. Thanks. I’ve only made them sauteed in olive oil, garlic and a pinch of red pepper flakes. This souldns wonderful.

  19. May 10, 2009 by Cookin' Canuck

    I grew up in Vancouver and desperately miss the Granville Island market. Anytime I take friends to visit Vancouver, that’s one of the first places we hit. Beautiful fiddlehead salad!

  20. May 10, 2009 by Diana

    It looks tempting. I am with you, blanche it first to make sure it’s fully cooked. Your salad looks delicious.

  21. May 10, 2009 by Cucinista

    Wow, I am so inspired to try to find some fiddleheads! I don’t know if the grow around here, or only North/west coast where it’s somewhat damp and rainy in the spring. Oh wait, I live in England…

  22. May 10, 2009 by pixen

    O my, my,myyyy… They looked so fabulous! I can eat kilos of them! The ones I can get were wild one from the forest… tiny and puny and not as big as those in your picts. I think the ones I ate locally looked more like bracken.

    I usually stir-fried with thinly sliced pork with garlic, lardons, cook in curry, dip in sambal or cook with sambal dried prawn or seafood like prawns, squid… lovely meals!!!

  23. May 10, 2009 by neena creates

    never seen them before but i am willing to try anything! i am on the hunt!

  24. May 11, 2009 by Ganges

    Fiddlehead!! Its look is amazing. Very new to me. And pictures are so nice and attractive

  25. May 11, 2009 by Carolyn

    What perfect timing. I was in the store yesterday and picked up a little package of fiddleheads! This is dinner tonight. Can’t wait.

  26. May 11, 2009 by Pink Foodie

    I’ve never used fiddlehead before and this recipe looks like a great introduction. I can’t wait to try it.

  27. May 11, 2009 by Nate

    I haven’t seen any fiddleheads at the farmer’s market yet, but this makes me want to search for them!

  28. May 11, 2009 by Carolyn

    This salad was so good! I really enjoyed the interplay of the lemon, garlic, fiddleheads, and lemon.

  29. May 11, 2009 by Aimee

    Wow. I’ve never heard of fiddleheads before. I’m 99.999…% sure that I will never be able to find these in po-dunk-nowhere-ville where I live, but if I ever get back to civilization I’ll have to give these a try. They sound really interesting. Thanks for highlighting these!

  30. May 12, 2009 by Jessie

    this is the first time I’ve heard of fiddleheads. Learn something new everyday! I’m going to try and see if I can find these little guys here in NYC

  31. May 12, 2009 by Lynne

    I’ll have to be on the lookout for these. Looks great!

  32. May 12, 2009 by Tonya @ What's On My Plate

    I bought some fiddleheads at Whole Foods over the weekend and the sign said to boil them for 10 mins. WAAAAAY too much time. My results were kind of mushy :(

  33. May 12, 2009 by Mel (admin)

    wow overkill. sorry to hear that :( stupid Whole Foods.

  34. May 13, 2009 by Jennifer

    Lovely looking salad!

  35. May 14, 2009 by Sheri Rehwoldt

    Wow. Interesting! Thanks for the post!

  36. June 27, 2009 by steenbok68

    Those are not gooseberries. Not sure of the English name though… They are physalis…

  37. June 29, 2009 by Mel (admin)

    You are right. The other name is CAPE gooseberry. Thanks for the visit!

  38. April 14, 2012 by Jssnider2003

    The salad sounds and looks very good.  I live in Texas so I’m sure they don’t grow around here, but there are some kinds of wild ferns in the woods where I live, right on the sabine river.  I will be sure to look at them to see if they are furled up like these, of course I will check into them before eating in case of poison…..I recently read a Stephen King book called The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon….about a 9 yr old girl who gets lost in the woods in New England (Maine, New Hampshire? Can’t remember) and she lives for 10 days off of fiddleheads, checkerberries and pine nuts.  It’s interesting to find out that they would be poisonous if eaten raw like the girl in the book did.

  39. April 16, 2012 by Melody Fury

    Hi Jssnider, I’m pretty sure she’d have to eat a large amount for it to have any effect. Exactly how much, I’m not sure but I’m not going to take my chances ;) Hope you can find some soon. I’ve yet to see them in Austin.

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