Fiddleheads are one of the world's coolest greens. These unfurled fronds of the ostrich fern (matteuccia struthiopteris) are known as fiddleheads because they resemble the finely crafted head of a fiddle. Depending on the weather, they begin to appear around late April to early May along river and stream banks, in open woodlands and at the edges of swamps and marshes across New Brunswick, Quebec and Ontario. They are harvested when just a few inches off of the ground so they are still tender and tightly coiled.
Loaded with healthful properties (such as iron and potassium), fiddleheads are easy to cook and, like asparagus, have a delicate green flavour that is best accentuated by simple cooking.
Though the flavour and texture may not be to everyone's taste, those of us who love them look forward to their fleeting appearance each spring.
How to cook fiddleheads
Fiddlehead preparation is easy. With a brush, carefully remove brown scales then wash well under cold running water to remove dirt before cooking; trim woody stems. Boil fiddleheads in lightly salted boiling water for 10 minutes (or steam for 20 minutes.) Serve at once with a drizzle of olive oil or melted butter and a squeeze of lemon.
Cooked fiddleheads can also be used like blanched or steamed asparagus in pasta, quiches or omelettes. They also make lovely salads when tossed with diced tomatoes and lemon-garlic vinaigrette.
How to freeze fiddleheads
Fiddleheads freeze well and, due to their short season, many people like to put some away for later use. To freeze, remove scales and wash thoroughly then boil in a small amount of water at a time for two minutes. Drain and let cool. Pack in freezer bags and store up to one year.
Note: Health Canada advises that fiddleheads should be cooked thoroughly before eating. Consuming raw or undercooked fiddleheads may cause diarrhea, nausea and upset stomach.
I was just being bullied by those beets in my fridge on the weekend (as in, guiltily looking at them, knowing I need to use them, and not being willing to make yet another pot of borscht!), wish I had seen this as it looks like a great way to use some of those beets up!
Member Chris tried it and says:
"Yum! All Taproot except for the dill and the olive oil and lemon in the homemade mayonnaise."
I love soup. I have been concocting soup recipes for years and love having a hot pot brewing at home. This recipe I made on-the-fly for a family event and everyone devoured it. The ingredients are ‘loose’ as you can add more or less to your liking. It is the combination of flavours that work so well in this soup, rather than the amounts.
When I was living in Ireland, a friend from Poland offered me a bowl of nettle soup. All I could think about was the terrible stings they leave. I had no idea how detoxifying they were or how fabulous they taste in soup. In Ireland we could find young nettles in our garden. I was thrilled to find them here at the Hammonds Plains Farmers’ Market. Here is my version of Nettle Soup:
Spring Nettle Soup
1 – 2 TBSP olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped or pressed
1 onion, chopped
2 cups brown mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced
2 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 bag Taproot Farm Nettles: about 2 cups
6-7 cups good quality vegetable or chicken stock
Optional: dash of thyme or nutmeg
Optional: 1 cup of cream or almond milk. (This adds a richness to the soup
but is not necessary. If you are not using the cream, add a little more potato and stock, purely to make the soup stretch.)
In a large stock pot, ‘sweat’ the onion in the olive oil, covered with a lid over low heat for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, boil kettle. Carefully tear open the nettle bag (without touching the nettles) pour into a large bowl and cover with the freshly boiled water. Let sit for 2 -3 minutes.
This ‘should’ (there’s my disclaimer!) remove all the stings from the nettle leaves. Drain, and pick out and discard any stems or hard pieces. Roughly chop.
Add garlic and mushrooms to the onion pot, return the lid and sweat for 5 minutes.
Add chopped potato and stock. Bring to a simmer, partly cover for 15 minutes.
Add nettles, simmer for 4 minutes. Puree the soup with a hand mixer or blender.
Stir in cream or almond milk if using. Salt and pepper to taste.
Nettle season is beginning! We have harvested a small amount for wholesale and today Amy and Josh loaded up some trays for drying. (See photo left)
If you don't already know this about your CSA farm, TapRoot is a nettle haven! We have a large, productive stinging nettle patch and so nettles make an appearance in the early spring shares quite a bit. Next week or the week following for sure, you will be receiving nettle in your shares. In the meantime, Monique shared this recipe, to get you excited!:
From TapRoot CSA member and nettle fan Monique: Nettle Season is upon us! I'm gonna share a traditional Viking recipe for Nettle soup! Stinging Nettle is one of the nine sacred herbs of Norse lore. "Traditional Magical Uses: Associated with Thor, nettles send curses back to their owner. Sprinkled around the house, it keeps evil away; thrown onto a fire, it averts danger; held in the hand, it keeps away ghosts. It is considered a "carnivorous" herb, and is used in purification baths. Burn for exorcisms."
Nässelsoppa (Nettle Soup)
This recipe is adapted from Över Öppen Eld Vikingatida Recept (Over an Open
Fire Viking Age Recipes). Makes 4 servings.
Harvest nettles early in spring. To avoid the sting of the fine hairs of the nettle, wear gloves or
grab the stalk very firmly. Nettles are rich in vitamins and minerals, which the body craved
after a long Viking Age winter.
2 quarts fresh nettles
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons wheat flour
1 quart good bouillon
1/2-1 teaspoon thyme
1/2-1 teaspoon marjoram
1/3 cup chopped chives
4 cooked egg yolks, chopped finely
Wash nettles well. Cover nettles with bouillon and boil for 5 minutes or until just tender. Drain
the liquid off the nettles and save it. Chop the nettles. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add a
little flour to the butter and stir until it starts to brown, then gradually add the bouillon. Add
the nettles back in, then cook at a simmer for 3 to 4 minutes. Season to taste with salt,
thyme, marjoram, and chives. Place into individual bowls and garnish with chopped egg yolk.
Sunchokes, also known as Jerusalem artichokes, have a crisp, clean flavor reminiscent of water chestnuts. This native North American tuber is a member of the sunflower family and looks like a cross between ginger root and a potato.
Sunchokes don’t need to be peeled; their thin skin is packed with nutrients. Clean them by scrubbing with a vegetable brush. Trim to a similar size for even cooking. Once cut, use immediately; the flesh browns when exposed to air. Do not prepare in aluminum or iron cookware, as the flesh will turn gray.
Among the most versatile of tubers, sunchokes are terrific raw, adding crisp flavor and crunch to salads. Slice and sauté for a crunchy snack. When baked, steamed, or stir-fried, the sunchoke takes on a rich, buttery texture and makes for a filling side dish. They’re frequently pickled in the southern United States. Bonus: Sunchokes are loaded with fiber, iron, and potassium.
Sunchoke and Parsnip Soup topped with Crispy Mushrooms
For the mushrooms: Preheat oven to 400. Gently toss mushrooms in oil, until lightly coated. Spread onto baking sheet in single layer. Roast for approximately 20 minutes, or until mushrooms are crispy. Check occasionally to prevent over-crisping.
For the soup: Sautée onions in olive oil until translucent. Stir in celery and garlic. Cook until vegetables soften.
Add parsnips, sunchokes and stock. Simmer for 30 minutes.
In batches, blend soup until it's as smooth as possible.
Add salt and pepper to taste, top with chives and crispy mushrooms.