Fiddleheads – the most fleeting springtime treat. They have such a small window of availability that they are often very expensive.
Fiddleheads are the young, tightly curled heads of ferns, and not all fern varieties are edible as fiddleheads.
My first few times eating fiddleheads I lived in Alberta, and I hate to say what I paid for them – double the price of asparagus? More?
When we stumbled across a bunch of them when out for a walk in BC I was so excited! Free fiddleheads! I don’t know which was more excited; my tastebuds or my wallet.
The variety we gathered was either Ostrich or Lady Fern. Both are safe to eat. I used an online guide to identify the correct ones. Eating the wrong type of ferns can result in an upset stomach, so make sure to do your research!
If you don’t have wild fiddleheads in your area, keep an eye out in your produce section in the early spring. They are worth the splurge!
Before cooking the fiddleheads, wash them well, especially if you have foraged for them in the wild. Clean them in cool water switched out 3 times, and make sure to remove any of the papery covers on the stalk and heads.
This recipe really brings out the best of the fiddleheads. Either it’s the recipe or the bacon. Bacon really does make everything better! The red wine vinegar adds a subtle tang that balances the saltiness. Once you try red wine vinegar and bacon with your greens you won’t go back!
2-3 cups of fiddleheads, cleaned well
1/2 pack of bacon, coarsely chopped (approx 6-8 slices)
1/4 cup finely diced onion or shallot
2 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1. Place cleaned fiddleheads in a steam basket and steam over boiling water for 10 minutes.
2. While fiddleheads steam, cook chopped bacon in a fry pan until almost crisp. Remove from heat. Add garlic and onion to the pan.
3. Toss steamed fiddleheads with bacon grease, bacon, onion and garlic in the pan. Add salt and pepper to taste.
4. Transfer contents of pan to a barbecue grill basket. Ensure the holes are small enough the contents don’t fall through!
5. Grill over medium heat until fiddlehead stalks are tender, but not too soft.
6. Remove from barbecue and toss with red wine vinegar. Serve immediately.