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Canadian Recipes Side Dish

Fiddleheads with Wild Garlic

Wild fiddleheads and wild garlic are available briefly in spring and are best eaten fresh. Combined in this simple recipe they are both a rustic treat and an urban delicacy.

A rite of spring

If you live in a big city and have country cousins, chances are you’ve heard one of them tell of picking fiddleheads and wild garlic.  For some it’s a rite of spring, some can’t get enough, while some don’t understand the hype.

Let me first explain the uniqueness of these plants.  The fiddlehead or fiddlehead green is actually the furled frond of a young fern that is picked and eaten as a vegetable. They are picked in early spring before the fern develops.  

What is wild garlic?

Wild garlic can be found across a wide range of Europe and Eastern North America. It is a perennial bulbous plant like chives and grows close to wetlands and in wooded areas. The North American variety goes by names like Canada onion, Canadian garlic, wild garlic, meadow garlic and wild onion and is known formally as Allium Canadense.  

wild garlic
The European wild garlic allium ursinum or bear’s garlic. Near Ingolstadt, Germany. Photo: Timo C. Dinger.

As wild plants, both are protected in some areas and are normally harvested by land owners where they grow naturally.  Conservation and special care is practiced to ensure their sustainability.

Our friends, Bryan and Edith, out in Finch Ontario own a beautiful country home on a large parcel of land where wild ferns and garlic grow.  Each spring, Bryan harvests his fiddleheads and wild garlic to pass along to his friends and family. With the conditions ideal for harvest, our generous and thoughtful friend delivered these local delicacies to our door, much to our delight.  Here is one of my favourite ways of preparing them…

Fiddleheads with Wild Garlic

Wild fiddleheads and wild garlic are available briefly in spring and are best eaten fresh. Combined in this simple recipe they are both a rustic treat and an urban delicacy.
Author: Kevin Lamoureux

Ingredients

  • 10 oz fiddleheads about 30 pieces
  • 3 wild garlics cleaned and chopped
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp fresh ground pepper

Instructions

  • Rinse the fiddleheads and add them, with the water, to a frying pan with a lid.
  • Cover and cook for 5-7 minutes or until reaching desired tenderness.
  • Drain the water and add the olive oil and garlic to the pan. Sauté (uncoverefor about 5 minutes.
  • Add the salt and pepper and serve.

Notes

1 clove of regular garlic may be substituted for wild garlic.

More fiddlehead and wild garlic suggestions

For something totally different I like to substitute fiddleheads for the spinach in Dal Palak. Wild garlic is also amazing in these recipes:

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