You can use either fiddleheads or asparagus, ramps or scallions. These spring treasures will add a pleasant freshness to any meal!
When local wild spring vegetables are bountiful, we look for every way possible to use them. Fiddleheads make only the briefest of appearances in our Northern woods, but when they start poking their little fern heads up through the earth, we’re ready with lots of possible dishes.
These unfurled fronds of the ostrich fern are tasty indeed, and a tradition. They can be sautéed, put in soups, salads, and main dishes, pickled, and marinated. Read more about their preparation here>>>
Unique fragrance and taste
Wild leeks have an intoxicating onion/garlic fragrance. The flavor is mild, but memorable. They are delicious in a simple sauté, in salads, casseroles, sauces, and they make a really incredible pesto. They are delightful grilled.
Our local asparagus always seems like a precious gift from the earth! We can almost watch it grow on warm days. We treasure each spear, and serve it roasted, steamed, raw, pickled, grilled, and sautéed.
It is important to know the source of your ramps. Because you want them to be sustainably harvested. They have been over-harvested in the United States and Canada (where they are protected) and are listed as a plant of “special concern” in a couple of states. So trust who you purchase them from, and mistrust any large volume of ramps that you see, especially large clumps of them with the roots intact.
Use them in many ways
All these vegetables also make their way to soups, frittatas, omelets, quiche, tarts, and other egg dishes. They are also delicious when combined in any number of recipes.
Marinated fiddleheads and asparagus and ramps lend a tart and tangy addition to any meal, especially if it is rich. The brightness and sweet and sour of this recipe improves with age. The chives work really well here, but you can add any fresh herbs you like such as rosemary or tarragon.
You can marinate just asparagus, just fiddleheads, or a combination of both.
Marinated Spring Vegetables
1/2 pound fresh fiddleheads, blanched, or asparagus
1/2 small purple onion, thinly sliced
10 – 15 wild leeks (ramps) well scrubbed and chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1-inch knob of ginger, finely minced
2 or 3 dried chili peppers, split (optional)
2 tbsp. minced chives
3 or 4 thyme sprigs
1 tsp. fennel seeds
2 tbsp. wildflower honey
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
Salt and pepper
Blanch your fiddleheads, and give them a quick sauté in a little olive oil. Place in a large bowl. If using asparagus, a quick sauté or roast in the oven is all you need.
Add sliced onion, chopped leeks, all the bulb and green (you can substitute 5 scallions, white and green), garlic, ginger, chilis, chives, thyme, and fennel seeds. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and mix it all up. You can omit the chili peppers if you don’t want any heat, or substitute a healthy pinch of crush red pepper flakes.
Combine oil, honey, and vinegar in a measuring cup and whisk. Pour over the rest of the ingredients.
Taste and correct the seasoning. You might want more heat, more sweet, more pepper or salt.
Let this marinate for at least four hours (a day is better), then serve! It will keep for several days refrigerated.
Serving suggestions: This is really good side dish served alongside a rich curry or hearty stew. It is also delicious added to a salad or sandwich.
© Copyright 2019 – or current year, Dorothy Grover-Read, The New Vintage Kitchen.