Fiddleheads “are furled fronds of a young fern” harvested in the early spring. They taste similar to asparagus but have a bit more grit. Growing up in New England we typically steamed or sauteed them simply with a little olive oil and salt and pepper.
In my farm box this week I received a 1/2 pound of beautiful fronds from Chamutka Farm in Whately, MA. I had an urge to try something a little different but wanted to keep it simple so I didn’t loose the uniqueness of the frond. My facebook fans came up with some great ideas including Fiddlehead and Chanterelle Risotto, Cream of Fiddlehead Soup, and Spring Linguine. I decided to adapted the Spring Linguine recipe from Whole Living and added pancetta, parmesan and lemon zest. The pancetta gives it a little more depth and the zest lightens up the flavor. And the parmesan, well. How can you go wrong with parmesan reggiano on a bowl of linguine? My recipe adaptation below. It’s a perfect spring dinner or for us a big friday afternoon lunch.
Spring Linguine with Fiddleheads
1 pound linguine
1/2 pound fiddleheads
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
juice from 1/2 a lemon plus zest
1/2 pound baby leeks, washed, trimmed, and cut into thirds on a bias
1 1/2 cups dandelion greens or sorrel, washed
1/4 pound of diced pancetta
1 cup of grated parmesan reggiano
In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the linguine until al dente. Drain and transfer to a large bowl.
My fiddleheads were really dirty so I soaked them overnight and drained. The next day I removed the papery particles from each of them. Then, fill a medium bowl with cool water; add 1 teaspoon salt and the lemon juice. Some recipes suggest blanching them after their first rinsing. Or you can cook them a little longer in the skillet like I did.
Heat large skillet over medium heat. Add pancetta and cook until crisp. Remove and drain on paper towels. Let pan cool for a few minutes and then add the leeks and saute for 2 to 3 minutes, until soft. Add the fiddleheads and cook 4 to 5 minutes more (less if you blanched them), until warm and golden. Add pancetta back in and for additional 1-2. Turn off heat and stir in the dandelion greens and cover while you drain the pasta. Toss the mixture with the pasta, season with salt and pepper, add addtional lemon juice and zest, stir in parmesan and serve.
Recipe adapted from Whole Living’s Spring Linguine.