Fiddleheads have always been a bit of a mystery to me. Although I consider my mother The Best Cook on Earth, there are a few local specialties we never ate. I don't remember eating Mackerel as a child, or Beet Greens. I probably would have hated them. It was really only after opening the Cafe that I started cooking with them.
Fiddleheads taste like spring; earthy, vegetal and green, and they are available for only a minute in May. I usually serve them simply sauteed in butter as a vegetable side, and they are welcome in creamy pasta dishes. I have found beautiful fresh fiddleheads right at Save Easy in Berwick, and my friendly Armstrong's representative, Will Mounce, brought me a pristine bag picked from his property last night. If the ends have browned, trim them a little and rinse them to remove any of the brown papery covering. Heat a little butter and oil over medium heat in a pan, then throw in the fiddleheads and saute for a minute or two. Add a splash of water, then cover the pan for a minute to steam (this will help them cook through without burning). Remove the lid and cook until the water has evaporated. Sprinkle with salt to taste and serve. Apparently fiddleheads have recently been found to contain twice the antioxidant value of blueberries!
Beet Greens are not nearly so fleeting, but they are available early and are amazingly popular around here. At the Cafe, we've made an annual pot of Beet Green and Sausage Soup, cooked them into lasagna fillings, and cut them raw into salads. Of course, they are best just steamed or sauteed with maybe a splash of vinegar. We have been buying amazingly fresh greens from Den Haan's in Middleton.
Last Thursday, I combined the two of them into yummy quesadillas.
Fiddlehead and Beet Green Quesadillas
1 T.Olive Oil
1 Onion, diced
2 cloves Garlic
1 Lb. Fiddleheads, trimmed and rinsed
1 bunch Beet Greens, chopped
2 C. Shredded Mozzarella
2 C. chopped Chicken (leftover roasted chicken is perfect, or leave it out for veggie quesadillas)
6 large Whole Wheat Tortillas
Preheat oven to 350. Oil a large baking sheet. Heat the oil over medium heat in a large frying pan. Add the onion and cook until translucent. Stir in the garlic and fiddleheads and cook for a minute. Add a splash of water, cover and cook for a minute, then stir in the beet greens. Toss until greens are wilted. Season to taste with salt and mix in the chicken. Lay out the tortillas and sprinkle with the cheese. Divide the filling among the tortillas, placing it on the lower half of each and spreading it out evenly. Fold top half of tortilla down to cover the filling. Carefully transfer the filled tortillas to the baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, then flip the quesadillas over and continue to bake another 5-10 minutes, until the outside has browned and the filling is hot. Cut into 4 pieces each and serve with sour cream and your favourite salsa.