Fiddlehead Ferns

Photo: Carina Salvi

Think of fiddlehead ferns, those tightly coiled, emerald-green symbols of spring, as ferns interrupted. Left unforaged, they’d mature into tall, feathery fronds. Gathered young by farmers like Franca Tantillo, who sells them at her Berried Treasures Greenmarket stand, they boast a crunchy texture and vegetal flavor prized by seasonally minded chefs. At the Spotted Pig, April Bloomfield sautées them with ramps and garlic for a particularly pungent, pancetta-enhanced bruschetta topping.

April Bloomfield’sFiddlehead-Fern Bruschetta
10 ounces ramps
10 ounces fiddlehead ferns
4 tablespoons butter
Pinch Maldon sea salt
Pinch crushed chili pepper
2 cloves garlic (1 chopped, 1 halved)
Half a lemon
4 slices Italian bread (Bloomfield recommends filone from Sullivan St. Bakery)
4 teaspoons olive oil
8 slices pancetta, cooked until crisp

Illustrations by John Burgoyne

Wash ramps and fiddlehead ferns well. Slice off and reserve the white bulbs of the ramps, and chop the green leaves into thirds. Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat until it starts to froth.
(1) Add ferns, the ramp bulbs, sea salt, and chili flakes. Cook until vegetables are slightly soft, approximately two minutes. Add ramp leaves. Toss and check seasoning. Cook until slightly brown (approximately three minutes). Add chopped garlic. Turn off heat. Drizzle lightly with lemon. Toast or grill bread until brown.
(2) Rub lightly with halved garlic clove and drizzle with olive oil.
(3) Top with ferns, ramps, and pancetta. Serves 4.

Fiddlehead Ferns