8 great ways to cook with fiddleheads this spring

Chances are, you're spotting piles of fiddleheads at your farmer's market or in the produce aisle right about now. What are they? The coil-shaped greens are the unopened young fronds of the ostrich fern, and they're in season until around June. Use them to add an earthy, asparagus-like note—not to mention eye-catching green swirls —to everything from a cheese-topped tart to a creamy risotto. (Note: Always cook fiddleheads thoroughly to avoid the stomach upset associated with eating raw fronds.)

Fiddlehead and Gruyere tart

Fiddlehead and gruyere tart closetcooking.com

In this party-perfect tart, sheets of flaky phyllo dough topped with sautéed leeks and Gruyere cheese make an ideal base for a generous sprinkling of fiddleheads.

Fiddlehead fern and edamame salad

Fiddlehead fern and edamame salad seasaltwithfood.com

A light lemon dressing lets the grassy flavors of steamed edamame and fiddleheads stand out among crumbles of soft, salty feta cheese.

Risotto with fiddleheads, favas and snow peas

Risotto with fiddleheads, favas and snow peas makezine.com

In this spring trifecta, plump fava beans, tender snow peas and fresh fiddleheads come together to flavor a creamy risotto fit for an elegant dinner party.

Buffaloed fiddlesticks

Buffaloed fiddlesticks cupofsugarpinchofsalt.com

Fry up some fiddleheads in a light tempura batter, and dip them in spicy buffalo sauce for a hot-wing-like treat.

Quick pickled fiddleheads

Quick pickled fiddleheads earthydelightsblog.com

Pickle fiddleheads using this quick and easy method, which keeps the coiled fronds crunchy.

Fiddleheads and shiitake mushrooms

Fiddleheads and shiitake mushrooms earthydelightsblog.com

Fresh fiddleheads and dried shiitake mushrooms are enlivened with ginger, sesame and soy in this Asian-inspired side dish.

Fiddlehead fern and morel mushroom pasta

Fiddlehead fern and morel mushroom pasta veggiebelly.com

For a quintessential spring dish, combine fiddleheads with earthy morels and your favorite pasta, and punch up the flavors with garlic and sprigs of fresh thyme.

Sauteed fiddlehead ferns

Sauteed fiddleheads thebikinichef.com

The simplest, most straightforward way to prepare fiddleheads? Just sauté the fresh fronds with garlic and shallots, and season with sea salt and a splash of lemon.

Ellen Sturm Niz is an editor and writer living, parenting and working in New York City. Follow her on Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr and Google+.

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