Working in an upscale grocery store has its perks, one of which is the ever changing array of intriguing products beckoning me to cook them. The past two weeks that item has been fiddlehead ferns. The first time I cooked them up I posted a picture to facebook and received comments like, “they look like baby snakes” and “that looks like Medusa’s head.” I guess they’re right, but either way, fiddleheads are delicious.
These compact, curly little veggies are actual ferns that are young enough that they haven’t yet uncurled and grown into full grown plants. They taste a bit like asparagus and have to be cooked before eating them or else the toxins they contain can cause slight stomach upset.
I decided to combine the fiddleheads with a lemony risotto, it seemed spring-like and fitting given their short availability. Fiddleheads are only available for a short time before they have time to grow too big, so if you’re going to make this, you have to do it soon.
lemon risotto with fiddleheads
2 cups fiddlehead ferns, rinsed
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup onion, minced
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 cups arborio rice
1 tablespoon lemon juice
6 cups vegetable or chicken broth
Zest of 1 large lemon
1/2 cup of parmesan, grated
Bring a small pot of water to a boil and blanch the fiddleheads for about two minutes until they’re bright in color. Submerge in ice water to stop the cooking process and set them aside. Bring the broth to a simmer in a small saucepan and keep it simmering. In a pot, combine the olive oil and butter and melt to combine over medium-high heat. Saute the onion and garlic until soft. Add the rice and saute until the edges start to turn clear. Add 1/2 a cup of the simmering broth and the lemon juice to the rice. Stir until the liquid is absorbed. Add more broth by 1 cup increments to the rice, always stirring. Make sure that the liquid is absorbed before adding more. After about 15 minutes, when the risotto is almost done, add the blanched and drained fiddleheads and lemon zest. After stirring in the last 1/2 cup of stock add the parmesan. Serve immediately.