Fiddleheads mark the first appearance of spring. They’re one of my favorite plants and remind me of my childhood, playing in the forests building fairy houses and toadstool tea parties for the oak tree gnomes . This recipe is an ode to those magical forest memories. Did you know that you can eat ferns? And many barks and mosses and woodland plants that we know too little about… only the cinnamon fern and ostrich fern (the one pictured below) are edible (always look out for imitators!). New sprouts of all kinds, ferns included, hold even higher nutrient and amino acid levels than in their adult forms. And fiddlehead ferns are particularly high in vitamin C, vitamin A (beta-carotene) niacin, potassium, and a host of antioxidants that help protect the body from free radical damage and disease.
If you’re foraging fiddleheads, make sure you have the real deal and not an imitation species, which could potentially be toxic. And try and only collect a couple of sprigs from each plant so as not to damage it. Fiddleheads are best cooked (raw can be tough on the digestive system), and even better when combined with flavors of the forests.
1 tablespoon (15ml) olive oil
1 cup (200g) fiddlehead ferns
1 cup (200g) mushrooms (shiitake, oyster, button)
Juice of one lemon
Salt and pepper
Garnish of hemp seeds, sesame seeds, or fresh herbs
Wash the fiddlehead ferns and dry them. Dust off any dirt from the mushrooms. Slice the mushrooms (or leave them whole for a more earthy effect!).
Heat a medium saucepan on high heat and add the olive oil.
When the oil begins to lightly bubble, add the ferns and mushrooms and sauté for 10 minutes until the ferns and mushrooms become tender and a little crispy.
Add salt and pepper and lemon juice. Divide the forest sautée amongst small plates or serve family style.