Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Fiddle me this, fiddle me that…

As bad as it is to say because I am a dietitian, sometimes I get bored of vegetables. I love what they do for me and the way they make my body feel, but sometimes I get stuck in a veggie-rut, buying the same veggies over and over at my weekly grocery trips. So, I’m always on the look-out for a new interesting vegetable to spice up my dinners. This past Friday, a good friend of mine cooked up fiddleheads to serve at a dinner she invited me to. Oh my excitement! I was so inspired I thought I would tell you all about them…

Why have you done a good thing?

Fiddlehead ferns (also known as ostrich ferns) are beautiful and quirky spring veggies that look like rolled up snakes or coils. Tasting like a cross between asparagus, broccoli, and spinach, fiddleheads have a mild flavor that are appealing to most. A great source of fiber, potassium, vitamin A, and vitamin C, fiddleheads pack a powerful nutritional punch. Like other green veggies, fiddleheads are also packed full of antioxidants including powerful phytochemicals.

Cleaning Tips:
Fiddleheads need to be well cleaned. Under warm water, use your fingers to rub the fiddleheads clean to remove any brownish fuzzy or paper covering.

Cooking Tips:
Make sure to cook fiddleheads well as they contain natural substances that can cause gastric distress and foodborne illness. When you are ready to cook them, place fiddleheads in boiling water for 10 minutes. Then, cook fiddleheads per the recipe that you are following. Fiddleheads also spoil fast so cook them up shortly (within 1-2 days) after purchase.

Cooking ideas:
-Saute up fiddleheads as a side dish. Sauté with garlic, shallot or onion, salt/pepper, and 1 tsp of oil or roast in the oven. For an interesting flavor, sprinkle with fresh lemon juice
-Add fiddleheads to your next Asian stir-fry.
-Mix up your omelets, add fiddleheads!
-Swap out asparagus for fiddleheads into your risotto dish
-Serve up fiddlehead salad at your next bbq cook-out
-Mix in fiddleheads to a whole-wheat pasta dish. Check out Emeril Lagasse’s easy fiddlehead fern pasta dish as a side dish to grilled fish or chicken. 

The possibilities are endless! So mix up your Spring veggie dinners and give fiddleheads a try. Other interesting Spring veggies: ramps, morel mushrooms, fennel, asparagus, artichokes, arugula, rhubarb….Pick something up at the grocery store or farmer’s market that you have never tried. It’s inspiring…

--Amy Santo, MS RD CDN

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