Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Woods Are Asleep

The wind was howling off the Sound this morning but in West Barnstable the warm sun made up for the wind chill and we hiked and cleaned the Otis Atwood loop off the Osteville/West Barnstable Road. The trail was much cleaner than when Grigri and I walk it in summer. Either that wicked wind blows the trash away or there are just fewer folks out and thus less litter. I have been out of town for two weeks and thought I'd be seeing some green shoots, but there were few. I'm wondering, when will we see fiddlehead ferns in the market? I checked Lamberts and Shaws on the way home but no fiddleheads yet. I found a recipe that I want to try out when they come, courtesy of The Heart of New England, an online magazine.

Makes 4 side dishes:

1 pound fiddlehead 2 tablespoons olive oil Butter (optional) 2 cloves finely chopped garlic (optional) ¼ cup pancetta or bacon, cut into ¼ inch cubes (optional) Kosher or sea salt and ground black pepper Trim the dark ends from the stems and wash the fiddleheads in a coarse strainer using a strong stream of water. Place them in a large bowl of water and swirl them around, rubbing off the thin flakes of chaff on the ferns. Drain and dry in a kitchen towel, rubbing off any remaining chaff. Heat oil in a sauté pan over medium – high heat. Add the bacon or pancetta, if using, and cook, stirring until lightly browned. Add ferns and garlic and cook, covered, for 3 – 4 minutes. Uncover and cook for an additional 3 – 4 minutes or until they are tender but still are slightly crunchy. Add salt and pepper to taste and swirl in some butter if you wish. Serve immediately. If you make extra, they make an interesting addition to a mixed salad or soups and stews. Because they are fully cooked, add them at the last minute to hot dishes. Any way you serve them, you will be enjoying a true New England treasure.

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