Chappaqua Farmers Market: Fiddlehead ferns

April 27, 2012
by Pascale LeDraoulec

“Fiddleheads are the unfurled fronds of a fern.”  Try saying that ten times! Better not. Their season is so fleeting you might miss them. Some shoppers were lucky enough to snap some up at the market last week. Newgate Farms will have more this week and probably next. These vegetables are gathered in the spring when they are still tightly curled and between 4 and 6 inches high.

This period lasts for about 15 days – usually between mid-April and early July, depending on the region. Fiddleheads must be harvested just days after they emerge, as the plants become positively inedible once they uncoil.  See Warren Hart’s recipe for sauteed fiddleheads, below.

Not only are they fun to say but they are delicious – a bit like asparagus only more wild. The easiest way to prepare them is to gently saute them with garlic and herbs and/or lemon until they are tender, flavorful, with just a bit of a crispness left to them. Or, you can toss them with angel hair pasta, throw them in a curry, or saute them in brown butter with prosciutto. They taste great with bacon!

This is the fourth Saturday of the month which means Lasagna Preziosa will be joining us. This week chef Riccardo Befi has been fiddling with a moussaka recipe – which, he insists is just a puddle-jump from his popular eggplant parmigiana. Speaking of Greece, Demetra of Kontoulis Olive Oil will also be here this week. Did you know that the last time she was here a regular shopper bought a $400 cistern of her oil? I always love it when Riccardo and Demetra are in the house at the same time. It makes our little market feel plucked out of a small European village.

Kings Roaming Angus is also here this week…so stock up on chicken for the grilling season! He will also have plenty of farm fresh eggs.

Since the weather looks good for the weekend, we will be out on the lawn again, directly in front of the Church of St. Mary the Virgin. We got such positive feedback from shoppers about that location last week. Is there a better feeling than lush grass underfoot in early spring?

And don’t forget to bring your knives for the knife sharpeners.

See you at the market!

Pascale Le Draoulec

Warren Hart’s recipe for a fiddlehead fern saute on pasta

Wash the fiddelhead ferns, cut off the tips of the stems, and then saute a bunch of garlic in olive oil and added the fiddleheads along with some fresh pepper and let them cook for a bit longer than I would have guessed—till the fiddleheads turn a lighter green.

You could put them on some nice emmer pasta (from Flour City Pasta—the emmer wheat is tasty and has three times the protein of most pasta).  Serve with a glass of your favorite wine and maybe some fresh bread and a little salad and you have a great meal.


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