This simple sauté is a lovely way to enjoy the earthy freshness of fiddlehead ferns.
1 lb. fiddleheads
1 clove garlic (or 1 small shallot)
1 tablespoon fine sea salt
2 tablespoons oil or butter
Trim the fiddleheads, removing any brown ends or mushy parts. Immediately before cooking, rinse them clean in cool water.
Peel the garlic or shallot and slice very thinly. Don’t chop or mince them as that could result in their pungent aroma overwhelming the delicate flavor of these wild beauties.
In a large pot, bring 2 quarts of water to a boil. Add the salt and the cleaned fiddleheads. Cook for 1 minute. Drain and rinse with cold water until the fiddleheads cool off (or dunk them in a bowl of ice water to shock them). Drain them and lay them out on layers of paper towels to pat them dry. This process of blanching removes the bitter edge of fiddleheads. If their bitterness doesn’t bother you, feel free to skip this step.
In a large frying pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the blanched fiddleheads. Cook, stirring frequently, until they start to brown on the edges, about 5 minutes (longer if they aren’t blanched). Add the garlic or shallots, if you like, and cook, stirring constantly, until the garlic is fragrant and just starting to color, about 1 minute.
Salt to taste & serve.