Here's a quick and easy recipe combining three favorite springtime wild edibles into one tasty dish.
Fiddlehead ostrich ferns, morel mushrooms and ramps are the "holy trinity" of spring wild edibles. Waiting for their arrival causes many wild food enthusiasts fits of impatience. I know that I am chomping at the bit for them once it begins to feel remotely "spring-like."
As the fiddleheads and ramps show up it is fairly easy to harvest enough to satisfy one's desire. Morels, however, may offer more of a challenge from year to year. Some years are great for morels, while other years are disappointing.
This year, however, has been a good one for many morchella hunters. I've found morels on every outing I've had so far this spring, and you can bet we've eaten some fantastic dishes featuring those oh-so desirable mushrooms.
But even when the larder is rich with wonderful wild ingredients, let's face it, some evenings you want something fast and familiar.
Pasta is always a good choice in that regard, especially if you've got more bellies to fill than key ingredients to fill them with, or if you just want to make something that looks more grand than the effort you actually put into it.
Here's a dish that fits the bill. It looks and tastes great, stretches a limited supply of morels further than they might otherwise go, and doesn't take much time to prepare.
Spicy Fiddlehead and Morel Mushroom Pasta
- 1 full cup ostrich fern fiddleheads, heads and diced stems*
- 1 large poblano pepper, large dice
- 1 or 2 jalapeno peppers, medium dice
- 1/3-1/2 cup ramp bulbs, small dice (ribbon cut a couple ramp leaves to garnish)**
- 1 heaping cup morel mushrooms, cut crosswise into rings
- grated parmesan cheese
- lemon to squeeze
- 1-3 tbls olive oil
- pinch or two of red pepper flakes
- salt and freshly ground peppercorns
- 1 lb. box angel hair or spaghetti pasta
- Prepare pasta according to box directions.
- Add a tbls olive oil to saute pan over medium heat.
- Add morels and saute until approximately half done, around 3-4 minutes, gently tossing once or twice. Salt and pepper, add pinch of red pepper flakes.
- Add poblano and jalapeno peppers, and ramp bulbs. Saute until just beginning to soften, about 2 minutes.
- Add fiddleheads and heat everything for another two or three minutes, gently toss once or twice. The whole thing should take only 8-10 minutes.
- Noodles should finish a bit before the saute. Drain them and add one or two tablespoons of olive oil and gently toss.
- Add most of the saute ingredients to the noodles and toss together. Keep some of the saute to add to the top of the noodles when plating. Grate parmesan onto plated noodle mixture, sprinkle with ribboned ramp leaves and give a squeeze of lemon over it all.
Depending on everyone's appetite, this will feed two hungry people, or make three or four average servings.
* When picking ostrich fern fiddleheads, try not to pick the curled fiddlehead part only. Cut several inches of the stalk with it, if it's available. The fiddlehead part is more showy, of course, but the stalk, or stipe, is fine eating as well.
** If you don't have any ramps on hand, which I didn't for the images of the dish I made here, you can substitute a couple cloves of garlic and a nice shallot.