Fiddlehead Salad

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The fiddleheads are here!  It’s a sure sign of spring when seasonal wild edibles begin to appear at the market.  I was thrilled to find these at Whole Foods last weekend and begin planning my first fiddlehead meal.

Fiddleads are actually the coiled tops of the Ostrich Fern.  They are harvested in the wild before the fern has unfurled.  They shouldn’t be eaten raw, but are delicious steamed, sauteed, or boiled.  Like many spring foods, they are packed with vitamins and nutrients.

I tend to use seasonal specialities as the highlight of the show – in this case I sauteed the fiddleheads in ghee (clarified butter), added fresh squeezed lemon juice, and tossed them on top of a spring salad.  The salad included some other springy produce — wild ramps (similar to scallions), watercress, parsley, and baby kale.  I also added mescalun, tomatoes, avocado, and pumpkin seeds.  It was delicious!

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Spring eating is all about increasing your intake of fresh greens after a winter diet that typically includes fewer greens and fresh vegetables.  Obviously this has changed with our modern food delivery system, but makes perfect sense for people who focus on eating locally.  Our bodies are craving the nutrients of fresh spring greens after a long winter.

I can feel this change in myself based on what is appealing to me.  While I certainly eat salads in the winter, I usually pair them with a warm dish.  As spring emerges I can feel myself being drawn to fresh vegetables and ready to put the winter stews and soups on the back burner.

Indulge these impulses and help your body cleanse and replenish by enjoying the first local spring produce appearing at your grocery store or farmers market.  Fiddleheads, ramps, and early spinach are some of my favorites.  What are yours?

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