According to the University of Maine's Cooperative Extension Publications:
Fiddleheads, an early spring delicacy in Maine, are the young coiled leaves of the ostrich fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris). Nearly all ferns have fiddleheads, but those of the ostrich fern are unlike any other. Ostrich fern fiddleheads, which are about an inch in diameter, can be identified by the brown papery scale-like covering on the uncoiled fern, as well as the smooth fern stem, and the deep ”U”-shaped groove on the inside of the fern stem. Look for ostrich ferns emerging in clusters of about three to twelve fiddleheads each on the banks of rivers, streams, and brooks in April and May. Make sure that you have landowner permission before harvesting fiddleheads.Since fiddlehead season is way too short, Josh tries to use them as much as possible. I have to admit, the first time he ever made I was skeptical. They looked different from anything I had ever eaten and I just wasn't brave enough to try them. This year, however, I jumped right on the fiddlehead train. I am so glad that I did. They are delicious! They taste like a cross between broccoli and spinach, only much, much better.
When trying to learn how to make fiddleheads, Josh of course turned to our own resident Maine Farmers. (In case you haven't seen it yet, Karl and Margaret and their Ten Apple Farm was featured on the front page of the Gray Independent! It is a great story, you should check it out.) Margaret shared with Josh her recipe for an out of this world fiddlehead and avocado salad. While we both thought the salad was yummy, the true test of any dish is when you bring it to someone's house and there are no leftovers. 2 meals later, there wasn't a drop left. Really, it's that good.
1 pound fiddleheads, rinsed and trimmed2 avocados, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes1 tablespoon sesame seeds2 tablespoons canola oil1 tablespoon rice vinegar1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
Directions:Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and blanch fiddleheads for 1 minute. Drain and run under cold water to stop cooking. Pat dry with a clean dish towel.
In a large bowl, combine fiddleheads, avocados and sesame seeds.
In a small bowl, whisk together canola oil, rice vinegar, and toasted sesame oil. Pour over the fiddlehead and avocado mixture and gently toss.
Sprinkle with sea salt and serve at room temperature or slightly chilled.Enjoy!