Fiddlehead Spring Pasta
There is no better time to truly enjoy the bounty of the Hudson Valley than in the spring. While many of the local farms are not producing seasonal delicacies as of yet, the woods of the valley are filled with culinary goodies. My favorites from the spring harvest are morels, ramps, nettles, and the most enigmatic, fiddleheads. Morels are a mushroom, ramps are in the onion family, nettles can be treated as a leafy green, but what to do with this almost alien looking vegetable? Fiddleheads are the young curled up sprout of an ostrich fern. When properly prepared and cooked they are meaty, with a slight crunch, similar to asparagus with a unique flavor. The first thing you need to do when you get fiddleheads is to clean them well. Fill a large basin with water and soak them, then rub each fiddlehead to remove the brown leafy fronds. Drain and then spin to dry in a salad spinner. Think asparagus when you prepare them from here. You can steam them and toss them in butter. Sauté them with olive oil and garlic. You can also make many other preparations such as the pasta recipe I am including below.
This recipe, “Taste of Spring Gemelli”, is on the spring menu at Terrapin Restaurant. I make a light camembert cheese sauce (don’t think alfredo!) and mix it with as many spring delectables as I can get my hands on. Fiddleheads are always front and center as long as they’re available.
• 1 cup milk
• 1 cup cream
• 1/2 cup white wine
• 2 tablespoons butter
• 2 tablespoons flour
• ¼ cup parmesan cheese, grated
• 6 ounces camembert
• To taste salt and pepper
Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat. Melt butter, than add the flour and cook for 1 minute. While whisking, add wine, then milk and cream. Bring to boil and allow to thicken. Turn off heat and mix in cheeses. Season to taste and reserve.
To make dish:
• 1 pound pasta (gemelli works well), cooked slightly al dente
• 1 tablespoon butter
• 1 ½ pounds mixed spring veggies, including fiddleheads, cleaned and cooked lightly
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 2 tablespoons garlic, chopped
• ¼ cup dry white wine
• 3 cups reserved sauce
When pasta is drained, toss with butter and set aside. Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add oil, then garlic and sauté briefly. Add cooked vegetables and sauté until well heated. Deglaze pan with white wine and then add reserved sauce. Add pasta and toss. Finish plates with freshly grated parmesan and cracked pepper.