At first glance, you may think fiddlehead ferns look a bit strange. Turns out, they're delicious! They have the texture of a delicate asparagus but with a richer, almost nutty flavor that needs to be tasted to be fully appreciated. To add these intriguing little veggies to your diet, you just sautée everything together, add your favorite pasta, a little splash of vinegar and lemon, and you're good to go!

Sautéed Fiddlehead Fern Pasta [Vegan, Gluten-Free]

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Ingredients

  • 8 ounces fiddlehead ferns, cleaned
  • 1 small shallot, roughly chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, to taste
  • 1 bunch ramps, cleaned and trimmed
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon and a pinch dried basil
  • 1 tablespoon white wine (optional)
  • 1/4 cup toasted walnuts
  • 1 16-ounce package pasta, gluten-free if needed
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar (or other vinegar)
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
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Preparation

  1. Clean your ferns by filling a bowl with cold water. Then, gently add your fiddlehead ferns and swish them around. This should remove all of the brown, paper bits that can cling to them  and any dirt that may be hidden inside those tiny coils.
  2. Prepare a bowl of ice water. Bring two pots of lightly salted water to boil. Boil pasta until just al dente in one pot, then drain, reserving 1/4 cup of the pasta water and returning to the pot. Boil fiddlehead ferns for 10 minutes in another.
  3. Transfer the fiddlehead ferns to the ice water after 10 minutes, to stop the cooking. Then drain well and pat thoroughly dry.
  4. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, adding shallots once warm. After a minute or so, when the shallots are fragrant and just beginning to soften, add in the fiddlehead ferns. Sautée for a minute and then add in your ramps, along with red pepper flakes and/or black pepper and a pinch of dried basil. Throw in the white wine to steam your ramps. Add your walnuts, toss and remove from heat.
  5. Stir in 1 tablespoon white vinegar, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon dried basil, and a pinch of salt and pepper to your pasta. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.
  6. Add pasta to your sauté pan and return to medium heat, tossing the pasta with the vegetables to allow the flavors to really soak in for a minute or two. Turn off the heat, and add lemon juice to taste.
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