Fern tips vinaigrette

Yield: 4 servings

Measure Ingredient
2 tablespoons Vinegar or Lemon Juice
6 tablespoons Butter, melted, or Salad Oil
½ teaspoon Prepared Mustard
½ teaspoon Paprika
½ teaspoon Salt
\N \N Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1 teaspoon Chives, chopped, or
1 teaspoon Onion, grated
2 \N Hard-Boiled Eggs, chopped
2 cups Fiddlehead Ferns, cooked
\N \N And chilled

Combine all ingredients except the last two; mix well. Arrange hard-boiled eggs over top of the chilled, cooked fiddleheads and pour vinaigrette sauce over all.

The author wrote: "Fiddleheads, the coiled tips of young fern fronds, are a springtime delicacy especially prized by New Englanders and wild foods enthusiasts. Their season lasts only two weeks or so in May. Three kinds of the curled crosiers are gathered: those of the ostrich fern, the cinnamon fern, and the common bracken fern.

"The fiddlehead is ready to pick when it is pushing up swiftly through the ground with its tightly coiled tip, shaped like the head of a fiddle. Fiddleheads are picked in the morning when they are woodsy-smelling and fresh flavored and snap off crisply into the hand of the picker. By afternoon the glowing green-coiled crosiers can have outgrown the edible stage, becoming unfurled fern fronds.

"The cinnamon fern (Osmunda cinnamomea) fiddlehead is gathered when it is about eight inches tall. The crosiers and one-half inch to two inches of the stem are eaten. A grayish-yellow woolly covering on the stems and tips must be removed (sometimes with difficulty) before the fiddleheads are cooked. They are washed and then rubbed to remove the fuzz. Fiddleheads will keep for a couple of days in the refrigerator after picking, but wild flavors and freshness are transitory. Better to pick fiddleheads in the morning and eat them before night - or freeze them." "The ostrich fern (Pteris nodulosa)...is the tall, graceful plant that grows on stream and river banks where the water comes up in the early spring. So abundant are the ostrich ferns in the lush natural ferneries of the Winooski valley near Waterbury, Vermont, that quantities of the fiddleheads are harvested, packed in snow, and transported to Maine where they are canned for sale in specialty food stores.

"Fresh, crisp fiddleheads are steamed or boiled in salted water for 20 to 30 minutes, until just tender. Their flavor hints of asparagus and mushrooms combined, and they are delectable served with either of these compatibly flavored foods. But the best dish of plump fiddleheads is simmered gently and served hot, enhanced only by the simplest adornment of melted butters, served within hours after the crosiers are gathered..."

From "The Wild Flavor" by Marilyn Kluger. Los Angeles: Jeremy P.

Tarcher, Inc., 1984. Pp. 245-248. ISBN 0-87477-338-5. Posted by Cathy Harned.

Submitted By CATHY HARNED On 07-15-94 (1435)

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