While many find themselves in the kitchen purely out of duty, I live for the moments of complete and total glory – the times where a new recipe, technique or ingredient inspire you to keep on plugging away at any new culinary quest you can get your hands on. It’s like Dr. Seuss once said, “You have brains in your head.You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.” Replace the shoes bit for a knife in your hand, and that pretty much sums up my quest for culinary majesty.
In planning the Feast of the Seven Boars, a lovely array of dishes with the aforementioned protein as the focus, my buddy Karen recommended we do something fun with the veggies. Off to Marx Foods for inspiration and lo and behold, the Wild Produce Pack. Bleedingly fresh ingredients that we’d never cooked before left us excited for a new adventure. In addition to the miner’s lettuce and stinging nettles, we received a glorious treasure trove of fiddlehead ferns. These little gems are an aesthetic delight – vibrant green and perfectly curled into delicate spirals.
We had learned that they tasted of asparagus and are often served with hollandaise, so in an homage to their taste-profile companion, we decided to follow one of my favorite preparations of asparagus – a quick saute with lemony gremolata. It seemed apropos in that the addictive combination of lemon zest, garlic, parsley and olive oil are as bright as springtime, and the fiddleheads themselves are a true indicator that spring is right around the corner. How could we not all fall in love?
Fiddlehead Ferns with Gremolata
1 lb. of fiddlehead ferns, trimmed of black ends
1 cl. of garlic, minced
1 cup of loosely packed parsley leaves
zest of 1 lemon
1/8 tsp. of freshly cracked pepper
1 tbs. of olive oil
1 tbs. of butter
Begin by finely chopping the parsley leaves. Add the lemon zest, pepper and olive oil and stir. Set aside.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt. Add the fiddlehead ferns and blanch quickly, for about a minute. Drain well and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
In a skillet, melt the butter. Add the fiddleheads and toss to warm through, about 2 minutes. Stir in the gremolata and sprinkle with kosher salt to taste. Serve immediately.