The sprouting of fiddleheads is a sure sign that spring has arrived! They grow along rivers and streams and are easily recognizable due to their tightly curled heads on brightly coloured stalks. This seasonal vegetable is packed with flavour and nutrients. They are a real treat that only comes but once a year.
Fiddleheads need to be washed and rinsed in cold water a couple of time (3 times does the trick for me) this will remove any remaining brownish coating and dirt that might be stuck in the fronds. Make sure to change the water between rinses. Once cleaned and rinsed fiddleheads keep for about 2 weeks in the refrigerator, but they really are best fresh.
Fiddleheads must be pre-cooked before using. This can be done immediately before using them in a recipe or in advance and just store in the refrigerator until ready to use. Steaming or boiling are the most common methods, whichever you choice don't skip this step. Not cooking fiddleheads all the way through might result in a very upset stomach. Another benefit to pre-cooking, is that it removes the bitterness from the vegetable and when done ahead of time gets dinner on the table faster.
Regardless of the technique you use, immerse the cooked fiddleheads in a ice water bath to stop the cooking and to ensure they retain their luscious colour and crispiness. Pre-cooking yields fiddleheads that are crisp and buttery.
Fiddleheads don’t seem to be a common ingredient in many kitchens. I’m not sure why as they are versatile, inexpensive and delicious. They have a flavour that kinda reminds me of asparagus, but milder.
The simplest method for preparing fiddleheads is to saute´ in butter and squeeze a bit of lemon juice over them. Enjoy as a great side dish with roasted salmon or just eat them right out of the pan. Substitute fiddleheads (or add to) any recipe that calls for asparagus and you won't be disappointed.
Why not give this garlicky fiddlehead pasta a try? It’s easy and economical and if you don't want a vegetarian pasta just add some shrimp or chicken.
1 Tbsp Olive oil
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 leeks, sliced (white parts only)
1 shallot, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
4 ounces mushrooms sliced
2 Tbsp flour
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup chicken stock (vegetable stock)
1 1/2 cups fiddleheads (pre cooked & cooled)
2 ounces herbed goat cheese
4 ounces fettuccini
parmesan cheese (garnish)
Salt & pepper
Boil or steam fiddleheads for 12 minutes, immerse in a ice water bath to stop the cooking, drain and set aside.
Cook fettuccini according to package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water.
Heat a medium skillet and add olive oil and butter. Add leeks and shallot, saute´ until softened but not brown, about 5 minutes. Add red pepper flakes and garlic and saute´until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add mushrooms and cook until golden brown in colour, about 4 minutes.
Add flour and cook, stirring for 1 minute. Slowly add the wine and cook until reduced about 3 minutes.
Add chicken stock and cook until thickened, about 5 minutes. Add the fiddleheads and goat cheese and stir to combine and melt the cheese to make a creamy sauce.
Add the cooked pasta to the skillet and toss to combine. Add enough pasta water to reach desired consistency.
Garnish with parmesan cheese
If you can remember back to 2013 it was the international year of quinoa, as declared by the United Nations. It was then that my love hate relationship with quinoa began.
Quinoa was the new superfood. For at least 2 years I couldn't pick up a cooking magazine, turn on the TV or surf the internet without being confronted with quinoa. There were so many recipes available and celebrity chefs cooking it in a multitude of ways. Why was I having so much trouble liking it and cooking with it?
I really wanted to like quinoa because of its nutritional value. It’s the perfect protein and is a healthy choice for everyone from meat eaters to vegetarians to vegans. Quinoa is a non GMO food, is high in fibre, contains vitamins, minerals and essential amino acids that our bodies need to be healthy. What did I have to do to turn it from mush into something I wanted to eat because it tasted good, not just because I wanted to improve my diet.
What I came to realize is that I just wasn’t treating the quinoa properly. There are a couple of tricks to cooking perfect quinoa.
1. The first trick for good (great!) quinoa is to rinse it well before cooking. This removes the bitter coating (saponins) and you might want to rinse 2 or 3 times, changing the water in between rinses.
2. Cook it uncovered until the water is absorbed. The ratio of water to quinoa is the same as cooking with rice. To change up the flavour try substituting plain water with chicken or vegetable stock. Whichever liquid you choose you need twice as much as the quinoa.
One cup quinoa needs two cups of water/stock. I add a bit of kosher salt as well. Bring it to a boil, then lower the heat to maintain a simmer. This should take about 15 minutes. Keep in mind that smaller quantities will cook faster and larger batches will take a bit longer, so keep your eyes on the pot.
3. When the quinoa is cooked remove it from the heat and cover for 5 minutes before using. The steam will open up the quinoa improving the texture and NO MUSH!
This is the method that works best for me and can be used with all types of quinoa, red, white and black. Fluff it up with a fork and use it hot or cold. Quinoa will be safe in the refrigerator for about 5 days.
I’ve come to realize quinoa really is amazingly versatile. Add fresh herbs, spinach, kale, avocado, parmesan cheese, feta or goat cheese. One of my favourites is Quinoa, Spinach Avocado & Feta salad
Trish is the top spoon at