I've seen artichoke recipes this season. I've seen asparagus recipes. I've seen fresh herb omelettes, ramp pesto, grilled fava beans, and great swansongs to soft goat cheese. I've even seen a how-to for meyer lemon soda! But what I haven't seen is an ode to those quiet and very much overlooked little fellows, the ephemeralest of the ephemeral: fiddleheads.
Fiddleheads are beautiful like nothing else. They are green and intricate, architectural and delicate. They remind me of embroidery, the subtle and very special embellishments on something handmade. They're the Gustav Klimts of the vegetable world. If you're going to eat, why not eat art? This was a lavish meal. It's always this time of year that my local-foods resolve crumbles. I start off all smug and delighted with my winter squashes and storage onions, and end up stalking lustfully through the produce department, reaching for a glossy red pepper like Eve in the garden. Fortunately, nothing cataclysmic happens when I break with my ethics. I have to say, though, that nothing, nothing has made me appreciate the sweet crunch of a fresh bell pepper more than going without them for a few months. My mouth is watering just remembering last night...
Anyway, without further ado, here's our recipe.
Fettucini with Marvelous Spring Vegetables1 lb fettucini
2 tbsp butter
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1 tsp dried thyme
1 cup vegetable stock
2 tbsp red wine
salt and black pepper to taste
1/2 lb asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces, tough ends discarded
1 red bell pepper, cleaned and diced
4 oz fiddleheads, tough ends trimmed (optional)
6 oz. button mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
Ample quantities of grated parmesan cheese
Begin heating a big pot of water for your pasta.
Warm the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and shallots, and cook until lightly browned and fragrant, about a minute. Add the asparagus, broth, wine, and seasonings. Cover and simmer about two minutes. Add the fiddleheads. Simmer another two minutes. Add the bell peppers, cook one more minute. Put the mushrooms in, and remove the lid so the cooking juices reduce a little bit. Cook until the mushrooms are just wilted and beginning to brown. Toss with the hot cooked pasta, and serve.