I’ve been romping around my woodland garden, picking fiddleheads. Finally, after all those months of frozen gloom and root vegetables, we can have the fresh flavors of spring — steamed, blanched, and sautéed in butter, or dressed up any way that strikes our fancy. Here’s a recipe that incorporates all four fleeting spring treats in one delicious salad. (Yes, I know you can get asparagus year round, but I’m talking about the tender young spears that just emerged somewhere local.)
2 cups sugar snap peas
1 lb young asparagus
2 cups fiddlehead ferns
6 Tbs olive oil
2 Tbs lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest
1 Tbs minced parsley
1 Tbs minced shallot
Salt and pepper to taste
Trim the peas and cut them diagonally in one-inch pieces. Wash and cut the tips off the asparagus, then cut the stalks into one-inch pieces. Carefully wash the fiddleheads, removing all the brown papery bits. Wash the ramps and trim the bulbs.
Blanch the peas in boiling water for about a minute, then remove them with a slotted spoon and plunge them into an ice bath. Do the same with the asparagus spears. Blanch the asparagus stalks and fiddleheads for 3 or 4 minutes and transfer to the ice water. After the vegetables are cool, drain them and lay them on a paper towel to dry.
Heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a heavy pan over fairly high heat, and cook the ramps for a couple of minutes, stirring from time to time, until they’re lightly frizzled. Set aside.
Add a little more oil to the same pan, and sauté the fiddleheads for a few minutes, until they’re just starting to brown.
Whisk together the ingredients for the vinaigrette.
Gently toss the asparagus, fiddleheads and peas in the vinaigrette. Divide between four plates, and top each with the sauteed ramps. Add a poached egg, or slices of hard-boiled egg, atop the vegetables for a more substantial salad. It’s delicious either way.