I learned about fiddleheads my first spring in Massachusetts, and one bite confirmed what I thought: These people will eat anything that grows out of the ground at this time of year, as long as it’s not that toxic. Fiddleheads can taste like lawn clippings. But then I parboiled them and sautéed them with garlic and oil and thought they tasted good. They made for a nice spring side dish vegetable and looked pretty on the plate.
And now fiddleheads are mainstream, available at the Trader Joe’s. This salad is another way to serve them, and could entice the fiddlehead uninitiated to try them.
Fiddlehead rice salad with pepita lemon dressing
1 cup rice of your choice (I used Trader Joe’s brown rice medley)
10 ounces fiddleheads
1 heaping TBS pepitas, toasted
3 TBS fresh lemon juice
2 tsp rice vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 TBS finely chopped herbs (parsley, oregano, cilantro, tarragon would all be good)
2 TBS chopped arugula or other zesty lettuce
1 green onion, white part finely chopped, green part thinly sliced
1. Cook rice according to package instructions. While rice is cooking, fill a medium pot 3/4 full with water, add a tsp of salt, and bring it to a boil. While waiting for the water to boil, rinse the fiddleheads well, dry them, and cut off the brown ends and cut them so they are bite size.
2. When water is boiling, drop in the fiddleheads and boil for 3 minutes, then drain and set aside.
3. Put the pepitas, lemon juice, rice vinegar, and 1 tsp salt into a mini food processor or blender and process. Scrape down the sides, add the olive oil and process again until blended. If you don’t have a mini food processor or blender, finely chop the pepitas, put them in a small bowl, and stir in the remaining dressing ingredients.
4. When rice is cooked and has cooled for a few minutes, put it in a serving bowl. Add the fiddleheads, dressing, chopped herbs and arugula, and chopped green onions. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed. Serve warm or at room temperature.