5 Ingredients or Fewer

Sauteed Fiddlehead Fern

April 30, 2011
6 Ratings
  • Prep time 5 minutes
  • Cook time 5 minutes
  • Makes 1 pound
Author Notes

The very first crop of fiddleheads can make you forget all about the long, hard winter you may have just had. Here is a simple recipe to enjoy them. I like to use butter or olive oil lightly to accent and highlight the fiddlehead flavor. I do not prefer a neutral oil here, but feel free to make that switch. If there are ever any leftovers, I simply add a splash of blood orange or champagne vinegar and chill them as instant pickles. With such a short season, these become dinner for a few special weeks. And yes, you could pickle them to extend the season, but they are low acid. Pressure cooking is recommended for safety. Don't bother to freeze them: simply enjoy them fresh instead. —Sagegreen

What You'll Need
  • 2 cups fresh harvested fiddlehead ferns, washed, dry
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon Meyer lemon (or blood red orange juice) to taste
  • 1 teaspoon Meyer lemon (or blood red orange zest) to taste
  • 1 dash sea salt or Maldon sea flakes
  1. If your fiddleheads are not absolutely clean and fresh, wash them well; then cut off any tough stems. Perhaps, very quickly, blanch them first. But if they are very clean and fresh, which is really what you want, you can proceed right to sauté: Heat the olive oil or butter. Add the fiddleheads, a sprinkle of the salt, and sauté gently for about 5 minutes, or just until tender, still vibrant green with a bit of snappy crunch left. Turn off heat.
  2. Layer in the citrus juice and the zest very lightly to accent, not drown the fiddleheads. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve while warm. Add a side of soft, scrambled eggs and you have an easy spring dinner, enjoy on a fresh crusty baguette, or maybe serve with a spring lamb dinner.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Bevi
  • fiveandspice
  • lorigoldsby
  • TiggyBee
  • wssmom

24 Reviews

zippy365 June 13, 2023
Even the suspicious agree that this recipe is a keeper. Simple and delicious, the best fiddlehead I have had.
foodbits June 15, 2020
Made these last night with fiddleheads from a grocer in Austin, TX. This was my first taste of fiddleheads. I was grateful for the pointers included in the recipe. It turned out delicate, fresh and intriguing. Loved eating them with lamb. Delightful recipe!
Bevi May 9, 2011
I made these tonight. They were delicious with lamb chops and a sweet potato! Thanks Sagegreen!
Sagegreen May 9, 2011
Thanks, Bevi. It is the highest honor when someone makes your recipe and reports success!
fiveandspice May 9, 2011
Yummy! I love fiddleheads (I always feel a little like a deer when I eat them for some reason though)! This looks like a great preparation.
Sagegreen May 9, 2011
Thanks, fiveandspice. I love your self- image as a deer!
GiGi26 May 7, 2011
Wonderful Sagegreen! I haven't had fiddleheads in YEARS! My grandmother was from Maine. Her sisters always made sure we had them every spring. They went "fiddlehead hunting" and sent them to us ! I have never seen them in the farmers market or even frozen here in West Michigan.
My husband came home from work just today and told me some women at work were looking at a cooking magazine, discussing fiddleheads and wondering what they were. He loved that fact that he could tell them!
Sagegreen May 8, 2011
Thanks, GiGi. They are such a delicacy. You can get canned fiddleheads which I think are beat frozen, but fresh is best. I do know that there was an internet order option from a place in Maine at least a few years ago, but have not checked recently. I love going to a local river out in the hilltowns around here and harvesting them directly. Whole Foods as well as our farmers markets are also carrying them. Hope you will be able to find some!
Sagegreen May 8, 2011
...oops...meant to write "beat frozen" or "are better than frozen."
Sagegreen May 8, 2011
Just found a northwest coast site where you can get 3 lbs of fresh fiddleheads for just over thirty dollars, then plus shipping:
lorigoldsby May 6, 2011
Beautiful picture and the recipe sounds so fresh I can almost taste it. Looking forward to finding some at the farmer's market tomorrow.
Sagegreen May 6, 2011
Thanks, lori. I will be getting a second batch tomorrow, too! It is such a short season.
TiggyBee May 6, 2011
Lovely Sagegreen!
Sagegreen May 6, 2011
Thanks, TiggyBee.
wssmom May 4, 2011
I saw these in the market the other day; can't wait to go back and get some to try this!
Sagegreen May 6, 2011
Thanks, wssmom! Good luck this week.
gingerroot May 2, 2011
Love this! Here we call fiddleheads ho`i`o or pohole...can't wait to try your recipe.
Sagegreen May 3, 2011
Thanks! I didn't know they were called that!
hardlikearmour May 2, 2011
Gorgeous! I ? spring.
Sagegreen May 2, 2011
Thanks, hla. Yes, it was a true spring weekend here. Perfect!
Midge May 1, 2011
Beautiful Sagegreen!
Sagegreen May 1, 2011
Thanks, Midge!
boulangere April 30, 2011
lovelovelovelove fiddleheads, and they just appeared here, too!
Sagegreen April 30, 2011
Thanks! It is so exciting. Good luck this week!