Fiddleheads are a vegetable that are only in season briefly every spring. They’ve been at our grocery store for the last couple of weeks and this week they went on sale, so I thought I’d give them a go. Mr. Pea has had them in something before, but last night was the first time I’ve ever cooked or eaten them.
Fiddleheads are in fact a tightly wound young fern. When you get them there are little brown nubbins that encase the ferny bits; these need to be washed/rubbed off, which is a little bit of a process. I had a little under a half-pound of fiddleheads. Once they were clean, I blanched them for just a couple minutes in boiling water before plunging them into an icy bath to stop the cooking process.
The rest of the risotto is pretty straightforward.
Get about 5 c chicken broth to a simmer.
Chop one onion into small bits, and a clove of garlic.
Add a tablespoon of olive oil to a deep saute pan over medium heat, and cook the onions. When they’re translucent, add the garlic, and cook a minute. Add 1 1/2 c Arborio rice (this is a particular rice for risotto–carnoli also works well) and stir, cooking a minute or so until the bits of rice are each translucent but with a white dot in the center. Add 1/3 c of white wine and cook off. Begin to ladle in broth just to cover the rice, stirring constantly, keeping at a simmer. When the rice absorbs the broth, add more. This should take 15-20 minutes.
When you get down to your last five minutes of cooking, drain your fiddleheads and toss in, stirring to cook. Continue with broth until the rice is still firm but creamy and somewhat tender.
Turn heat off. Add 1 T butter, a good couple grinds of black pepper, and 1/2 c or so grated parmesan. Serve with additional cheese. It’s a very lovely taste of spring.