April 27, 2014

Fiddlehead Risotto

If you have been following my recipes for any length of time, surely you are thinking, 'she's doing another risotto?'. Oh yes... I can, I will, and I did! 

We lucked out and smuggled a generous collection of fiddleheads home from my aunt's Easter fixings. I love fiddleheads, which truly taste like spring, but I actually don't have a ton of experience cooking them. After browsing the internet for some recipes and reading the third warning about proper cooking and storage to prevent foodborne illness, I decided to be cautious and make certain mine were good and cooked, especially since they were a few days old and I was serving them to my three year old. Risotto is always a safe bet to please all the eater's in our house, and the richness of the cheese proved the perfect compliment to the grassy fiddleheads. 

Little Smith was quite taken with the spiral form of these baby fern fronds, and it was difficult to wrestle them away to get cooking. We ended up pairing them with some edamame (also left over from Easter), but peas would be equally delicious and verdant. If you don't have fiddleheads, asparagus has a similar bright flavor. My basic risotto recipe tends to stay the same, so improvise at will.

Fiddlehead Risotto:
  • 1 qt vegetable stock
  • 4 tbs butter
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 c risotto rice
  • 1/2 c white wine
  • grated zest of one small lemon
  • 3/4 lb fiddleheads
  • 16 oz shelled edamame (frozen is fine or use peas)
  • 1 1/2 c grated parmesan cheese (plus more to garnish)
  • handful of minced italian parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste 
{Prepare the fiddleheads by submerging them in a bowl of cold water, removing the brown foil bits and trimming the ends. I decided to steam mine in advance (again, paranoid after reading about illness and with my toddler eating them), but honestly I think they would be fine added earlier in the cooking process directly to the risotto raw, which is how I use asparagus in this dish.

If steaming the fiddleheads, bring a few inches of water to a boil in a large pot fitted with a steaming basket and steam for about three minutes until just tender.}

Bring the vegetable stock to a boil in a small heavy bottomed pan. Reduce the heat and simmer very low throughout the cooking process. 

Heat a large heavy bottomed pan over medium heat and add butter and olive oil. Add onion and garlic and continue to cook for about three minutes, until translucent. 

Add the rice and stir for about a minute. Add the wine and stir until the liquid is absorbed. Add the lemon zest. Add one ladle of vegetable stock and stir until the liquid is absorbed. (If you are not pre-steaming the fiddleheads, add them now). Repeat this process, adding the stock a ladle at a time and stirring for 10 minutes.

Add the edamame and continue to add stock one ladle at a time for about 4 minutes, add the steamed fiddleheads and cook another 4 minutes adding stock until the rice is tender.

Add one final ladle of stock, the parsley, cheese, salt and pepper and stir to combine. Remove from heat and let sit covered for about 5 minutes.

Spoon into bowls and top with ribbons of fresh parmesan.

Little Smith was slightly hesitant about these coiled green 'slinkies' in his rice, but once I coaxed him into giving them a try, he relaxed and enjoyed the meal. And I do know that it's slightly unusual for a three year old to eat risotto with his hands, but that is just how he rolls these days... I pick my battles. I snapped these photos over my own bowl during our candlelit lunch, which has become our little rainy day indulgence this spring.

I'm hoping to get my hands on a few more fiddleheads before this fleeting season ends, I'd like to try them simply sauteed and served with some eggs or in a wrap... if I get the chance I will report back on my favorite preparation. I'm getting so excited for all the fresh produce on the horizon, I can hardly wait!


  1. Lilly, what a bright and beautiful lunch! I have never tried fiddleheads, but they are so spring-like, I'm sure I could get my boys to at least try them. We're into sugar snap peas over here right now. And the white wine and fresh parmesan... mmm, how could you go wrong?

  2. The joy of eating! What a whimsical little veg :) Thanks!

    1. Aren't they cool? I think along with garlic scapes, these are a new spring favorite :)

  3. I'll have to try these little guys out! We love our risottos around here.

  4. Risotto is never a bad thing-- & I join the never-had-fiddleheads club! I'll have to see if I can't search em out...we do love our asparagus 'round here, so I think they'd be a lovely change!

  5. This looks amazing! I would like to try making these for my own family. You have a very beautiful family and I enjoy looking at your family's photos as well as reading your posts. Keep it up! Thanks for sharing this.


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