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Publication: I'm Not Martha
Fiddlehead ferns

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          I'M NOT MARTHA - Tuesday, March 27, 2007

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Hi! I'm Lizzy!!  and I'm not Martha!!!

i was talking to The Contessa the other day. She told me she 
had seen the first fiddlehead fern arrive at the green grocer. 
We both love this unique veggie that grows mainly in the 
Northeast, though they are found just about everywhere these 

Holiday dinners are being planned...whether it's Easter or 
Seder, wonderful vegetable dishes are a Springtime treat. 
Fiddlehead fern is almost always the prized side dish at my 
table.  And another favorite is sugar snap peas. Love them 
both.  The Contessa and I drooled over the phone just talking 
food back and forth.  She's planning.  I'm planning.  Are 

P.S. If you're interested we now have a forum. You can post 
comments on this and recent issues at... Not Martha forum


A young, edible, tightly coiled fern frond that resembles 
the spiral end of a violin (fiddle). It is also referred to 
as ostrich fern and pohole. They are simply the immature 
leaf fronds of ostrich fern plants that have not yet opened. 
The shoots are in their coiled form for only about 2 weeks 
before they unfurl into graceful greenery.  

Fern leaves are poisonous once they open and can only be 
enjoyed in this early stage, when they taste like a cross 
between artichokes and asparagus.

Fiddlehead ferns are a rich, deep green color and are about 
2 inches long and 11/2 inches in diameter.

Choose small, firm, brightly colored ferns with no sign of 
softness or yellowing. Refrigerate, tightly wrapped, for no 
more than 2 days.

After a fiddlehead is removed from the stalk, the cut end 
starts to turn brown. Be sure to trim back the stem (about 
1/4 inch) to the healthy green section and trim any fuzzy 
ends around the fiddlehead before cooking.

They may be served cooked as a first course or side dish or 
used raw in salads. Fiddlehead ferns are a good source of 
vitamins A and C.

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Serves 6

Kosher salt
2 pounds fiddle head ferns, tripped and washed
24 paper-thin slices prosciutto
6 tablespoons brown butter
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. In a large pot bring 2 quarts water and 1 tablespoon salt 
to a boil. Fill a medium bowl halfway with ice water. Drop 
the fiddleheads into the pot and cook for 1 minute. Drain 
the fiddleheads in a colander, then submerge in the ice 
water until completely cool. Let the fiddleheads drain well 
in a colander and wrap them in a clean kitchen towel to dry.

2. Arrange 2 slices of prosciutto on each of 6 room temper-
ature plates.

3. Put the brown butter in a large saute pan over medium 
heat. Add the fiddleheads and toss gently, adding 1/2 tea-
spoon salt and the pepper. Heat for a minute or two until 
they are warm, then divide the fiddleheads among the 6 
plates. Serve at once.


Sweet and succulent, sugar snap peas are the result of 
crossing English peas with snow peas and you eat them 
whole, pods and all--no waste, just tons of great spring-
time taste.

Snap peas should have good color, darker than regular for 
sugar snap peas. They should also exhibit a firm crispness. 
The ideal size for sugar snap peas is 2 1/2 to 3 inches in 
length. They should also have a plump, snug pod encasing 
the peas inside. Sugar peas have a somewhat longer shelf 
life than green peas, up to three days when kept refriger-
ated unwashed, in plastic bags.

Before you eat them, snap off the stem and remove the 
stringy spines on both sides of the pod.


1/2 pound sugar snap peas
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped shallots
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
kosher salt to taste

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C).
Spread sugar snap peas in a single layer on a medium baking 
sheet, and brush with olive oil. Sprinkle with shallots, 
thyme, and kosher salt.

Bake 6 to 8 minutes in the preheated oven, until tender but 


This is a nice use of leftover lamb.

1 pound sugar snap peas (about 4 cups), trimmed
1 1/2 pounds cooked Butterflied Leg of Lamb, cut across 
 grain into thin slices
1 small red onion, slices thin
For dressing
3 tablespoons rice vinegar (not seasoned)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons honey
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons dark sesame oil
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh mint leaves

Garnish: mint sprigs

In a saucepan of boiling salted water blanch peas 1 minute 
and drain in a sieve. Rinse peas under cold water to stop 
cooking and drain well.

In a large bowl toss peas with lamb and onion.

Make dressing:
In a small bowl whisk together all ingredients.

Drizzle dressing over salad and toss well. Garnish salad 
with mint sprigs.

Serves 4 to 6.

July 1994


Questions...Comments...? email Lizzy

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