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5 min read

This Week’s Vegetable Box Feature: Fiddleheads, a delicate wild spring vegetable, only available for a few weeks every year. They are prized by chefs for their symbolism of spring, eating local, wild sourced foods, and of course their flavour!


Did you know?

  • They are the very young shoots of the Ostrich Fern
  • They are older than dinosaurs! By over 100 million years! Ferns first show up in fossil records before flowering plants existed.
  • It was once believed they gave you superhuman powers. During the Middle Ages, people thought fern seeds made you invisible. They would appear only once a year to reproduce at midnight on St. John’s Eve (June 23). Even Shakespeare wrote about it in Henry IV. Just to clear things up: ferns reproduce through their spores.
  • New Brunswick is considered the “Fiddlehead Capital of the World”. Tide Head, New Brunswick to be exact! You can find fiddleheads in wet sunny floodplains of Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and most abundantly, New Brunswick.
  • The flavour of a fiddlehead is like a love child between asparagus, okra, and green beans.
  • Fiddleheads are nutritionally comparable to asparagus and many other green vegetables giving eaters a good dose of Vitamin A and C.


Fun Fact: Fiddleheads are one of the only vegetables native (not cultivated) to Canada. It was the Maliseet, Mi'kmaq, and Penobscot peoples of Eastern Canada that traditionally harvested fiddlehead and introduced the vegetable to the Acadian settlers in the early 18th century.


Where to store them?

Store the fiddleheads in a breathable container in your fridge for up to three to four days after harvesting. You want to avoid moisture build-up, and airflow will help keep them dry, and cool.


How to clean them?

To clean your fiddleheads, remove any of the brown papery husk that may be wrapped around the tightly curled head. Rinse the fiddleheads in fresh water several times to wash away any dirt, insects, and remaining bits of husk. The fiddleheads should be a vibrant dark green, firm, and not have any black patches on them.


How to Use them?

You may have heard that Fiddleheads are toxic… but they ARE NOT! It is actually bacteria that can easily get stuck in the coils that may cause gastrointestinal illnesses.

We recommend not consuming them raw and a 15-minute boil or a 20-minute steam bath before consumption. Once cleaned, they make an excellent side dish for grilled pork, chicken, and even fish and shellfish! They can be used much like asparagus. Their mild, green flavoring is best suited for lightly cooked preparations, including steaming, braising, boiling, sautéing, or roasting.

Fiddlehead ferns pair well with other spring plants such as snap peas, pea tendrils, morel mushrooms, green garlic, spring onions, and artichokes, herbs including tarragon, basil, rosemary, marjoram, basil, and oregano, miso, lemongrass, butter, lemon, and grapefruit.





Fiddlehead Sauté

Created by: Robin Gagnon

An easy fiddleheads recipe perfect for those new to the ingredient.



1 lb Fiddlehead Fern

1 ½ TBSP butter

1 -2 clove garlic crushed/minced

4-5 sprigs of fresh lemon thyme - standard thyme will do if that is all you have available

2 TBSP chicken stock or 2 TBSP white wine and ¼ tsp of Kosher salt


1. Rinse the ferns and trim off browned ends.

2. Place skillet over medium heat. Melt butter, then add the garlic and ferns. Sauté until garlic is cooked through.

3. Add wine or stock, cover and cook ferns for 6-7 minutes, until tender, but not completely limp.

4. Serve as a side as is, or with a light squeeze of lemon.


Spring Salad with Fiddleheads

Recipe Created by: Terri Gilson

This makes a great side or make it a meal with grilled chicken. It can also be vegan with pine nuts.



For the salad:

3 cups spring mix

4 breasts chicken breast *for vegan, skip the chicken and only use pine nuts

1 297 g container of cherry tomatoes

⅓ cup yellow pepper finely chopped

⅔ cup pine nuts

1 ½ cups fiddleheads (or asparagus)

2-3 tablespoon Dijon mustard (for chicken, if using)

2 teaspoon garlic powder (for chicken, if using)

For the dressing:

1 cup fresh blackberries

¼ tsp fennel, ground

¾ cup olive oil

4 TBSP balsamic vinegar

2 tsp lemon juice

2 cloves garlic

1 TBSP white granulated sugar

2 TBSP water


1. If using chicken: brush on dijon mustard, and cook in grill for about 7 minutes on each side or until chicken is no longer pink in the middle. Slice and set aside.

2. Blackberry Vinaigrette: Place the black berries in blender with water and process for 3 minutes , strain pureed berries through fine sieve and discard seeds, setting aside the blackberry puree. Rinse seeds from blender then place blackberry mixture back into blender and add remaining vinaigrette ingredients. Cover, and blend until smooth, about 1 minute. Refrigerate until ready to use. Stir or shake before using.

3. Fiddleheads:

Cooking fiddleheads: Rinse and clean fiddleheads, then add to boiling water and boil for 10 minutes. Drain and pat dry with paper towel.

4. Salad: Mix spring mix, yellow peppers, cherry tomatoes, pine nuts and fiddleheads. Add as much blackberry vinaigrette as you prefer and top with sliced grilled chicken (if using).


Fiddlehead Lemon Pasta

Created by: Adrianna Adarme

A delicious dinner idea!



1/2 cup fiddleheads washed and trimmed

1 tsp olive oil

1 TBSP unsalted butter

Pinch of salt

Pinch of red pepper flakes

8 ounces dried spaghetti pasta

3 TBSP unsalted butter

1 tsp lemon zest

2 TBSP lemon juice

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup Parmesan-Reggiano plus more for garnish

Freshly ground pepper


1. To start, make sure the fiddleheads are thoroughly cleaned and stems are trimmed. Prepare an ice bath (water and ice mixed together in medium bowl). Place a small saucepan full of water, over high heat. When the water reaches a simmer, add the fiddleheads and blanch them for 3 to 4 minutes. This will remove a lot of their bitterness--essential! Drain the fiddleheads and immediately transfer them to the ice bath so they stop cooking. When they're cooled, drain the fiddleheads and dry them thoroughly.

2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook your pasta until al dente, about 7-9 minutes. Drain and set aside.

3. In a medium sauté pan, set over moderately high heat, add the olive oil and butter. When the butter is melted and the oil is hot, add the fiddleheads, salt and red pepper flakes; cook for 2 to three minutes, tossing every so often. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, heavy cream and Parmesan-Reggiano. Mix until combined. Add the warm pasta and toss until the noodles are completely dressed. Divide between bowls and top with more Parmesan cheese and a sprinkling of freshly ground pepper.


Roasted Fiddlehead

Created by: Gloria Duggan

A simple side dish that is easy and delicious.



1 lb fresh fiddlehead ferns

3 TBSP olive oil salt & pepper (to taste)

3 oz feta cheese (crumbled)


1. Preheat oven to 425º F.

2. Wash the fiddleheads (several times) and pat dry. I used a kitchen towel.

3. Remove any loose brown leaves, and trim any dry ends.

4. Place cleaned fiddleheads into a roasting dish.

5. Coat with the olive oil.

6. Season with salt & pepper. I use smoked sea salt.

7. Roast for 25-30 minutes, stirring about ½ way through.

8. Remove from oven and place on a serving tray.

9. Garnish with the crumbled feta cheese.


Recipes are curated by Lauren

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