April 21, 2014 at 4:20 PM ET
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.)
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.
A light lemon dressing lets the grassy flavors of steamed edamame and fiddleheads stand out among crumbles of soft, salty feta cheese.
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.
Fry up some fiddleheads in a light tempura batter, and dip them in spicy buffalo sauce for a hot-wing-like treat.
Pickle fiddleheads using this quick and easy method, which keeps the coiled fronds crunchy.
Fresh fiddleheads and dried shiitake mushrooms are enlivened with ginger, sesame and soy in this Asian-inspired side dish.
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.
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.