Tuesday, May 06, 2008


My husband and I are both long-standing fans for this curly vegetable that looks like the end of a violin (or a snail, or a car wheel, depending on your frame of reference!). Last year, we bought package after package of them while they were in season, and cooked them up with butter and garlic. I love them because they are not your ordinary green vegetable, and any dish you put them in suddenly feels upscale.

In my quest to continually expose my children’s taste buds to new and interesting things, I picked up a package. The Bean is a little iffy with green vegetables--except string beans and peas, which he devours.

Some people are a little leery of fiddleheads, but if you buy them from a reputable source and wash and cook them thoroughly (at least 8-10 minutes is recommended), I believe they are safe.
Since I was feeling guilty about not submitting a dish to Presto Pasta Night (hosted by Ruth at Once Upon a Feast) last week, my first thought was to use it in a pasta dish. As a bonus, this might also encourage the Bean to try it too, since he loves pasta.

Now, I have a secret to tell you. One of the reasons I didn’t submit anything to PPN last week is because I decided to get “all creative” again by not using an existing recipe as a starting point, and it was terrible.

I tried to make an asian-inspired pasta by using vegetables you would normally find in a stir-fry (matchstick carrots, bean sprouts, and snow peas). But then I let my kids' taste buds influence the use of vegetable fusilli (orzo would have been better) and the addition of black beans (my only defense here is I had no chicken). I think what really killed it for me though was the dressing (I can’t even remember what I used now –, which is probably the best for all concerned). It looked pretty but taste-wise, it was a real bomb. I even threw the leftovers out, which I never do.

Even though there are plenty of pasta and fiddlehead recipes online (look here and here), I decided to tempt fate again (you’d think I’d learn, but noooo). I had no good reason to do this except that I was craving black olives. This would all make sense to you if you subscribe to the same “cooking with colour” philosophy that I do (another thing to explain in a future blog post…). So off I went on my own, trying to think of things that would taste good with fiddleheads, black olives and pasta.

Fortunately, this was a success. I know this because my husband told me (without prompting, thank you) that it was good. The Bean ate almost everything on his plate, though he didn’t much care for the fiddleheads (too bad, but more for me).

And so I’m putting the recipe out there for others to see, and maybe even comment. I know there are at least five people reading this blog ....

Four Ingredient and Fiddleheads Pasta

1 package of fiddleheads
juice of one lemon
2 tbsp herbed butter (I used a premade version with garlic, basil. and oregano, but you could just as easily make your own)

1/4 cup plain pitted olives, sliced
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
wholewheat penne pasta for 4 people
1 small jar (270 ml) of artichoke hearts, drained *optional

My Preparation

I washed the fiddleheads thoroughly, rubbing off any of the brown membrane that was left and making sure there was no grit. I also cut any rough ends off. The fiddleheads went into a frying pan where I covered them with water and added half the lemon juice and a pinch of salt. I boiled them until they were fairly tender (often described as fork-tender). When they were done, I drained them into a colander, transferred them to the serving bowl where I tossed them with the pasta and the herbed butter (pasta was prepared al dente while the fiddleheads were cooking).

I tossed it again with the chopped olives, the remaining lemon juice, the artichoke hearts* and parmesan cheese.

*A note on the artichoke hearts: I used a jar of marinated artichoke hearts, and even though I drained most of it out before adding the artichoke hearts, the marinade overpowered the dish. So if you like the taste, that's fine, but if you want the pure unadulterated taste of fiddleheads to be the last memory on your palate, I'd omit them.


Ruth Daniels said...

I love, love, love fiddle heads. It's a sure sign of spring...unfortunately I haven't seen any around here as yet. Thanks for sharing this pasta dish with Presto Pasta Nights.

Usually I just sautee fiddle heads in a little butter, garlic and lemon juice, but....pasta....great idea!

LisaRene said...

I think it's wonderful that you are committed to exposing your children to new and healthy foods, good for you!

Fiddlehead ferns are so tasty and a great addition to a pasta dish.