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Spring Onion Fiddlehead Risotto

Creamy, warm and filled with sweet earthiness, this Spring Onion Fiddlehead Risotto is a seasonal treat perfect for enjoying with a crisp salad and bread. Take your time making it and your effort will be rewarded by a perfect dish.

Spring in Maine is a fickle time. We’ll enjoy 70-degree weather one day, in all its shorts and sunglasses glory, and be bundling up in pants and sweaters the next day as the temperatures hover in the 50s — or lower.

It’s too soon to put away our winter clothes, even at the end of May, because we’re not 100 percent sure winter weather is over yet. But we’re pulling out the short sleeves and lighter dresses anyway.

For those of us that grow food, even a little bit, it’s also a mixture of a guessing game and a waiting game as we await the last frost. This year, it came after Mother’s Day. We’d already planted our seeds, but it was okay. It was close enough in time that the seeds hadn’t sprouted yet, so they weren’t hurt by the frost and cold.

But even as we struggle with the weather, there’s a sure march toward warmer days happening. And there are a few bright spots that remind us the season is, in fact, changing, including the appearance of fiddlehead ferns at farmers markets, roadside stands and in marshy areas waiting to be foraged.

Are you familiar with fiddleheads? If you live outside the northeast, you might not have heard of them.

What are Fiddleheads?

Fiddleheads are the coiled fronds of the Ostrich fern, which are harvested in spring by foraging. Considered a delicacy in the Northeast United States and Canadian Maritime Provinces, they have a short season — usually late April to early June.

Treated as a vegetable in recipes (such as my Fiddlehead Greens Salad), they must be cooked before eating. Raw fiddleheads will make a tummy ache.

Also, it’s important to note that only the fiddleheads from the Ostrich fern are edible. Although other ferns have similar looking first growths, they cannot be eaten. The fiddleheads of the Ostrich fern can be identified by the papery, brown covering on the uncoiled fern and the smooth fern stem with a deep U-shaped groove, according to the University of Maine Cooperative Extension.

They should be cleaned, and the papery covering removed, before cooking.

In this recipe, fiddleheads are cooked and added to risotto at the end of the cooking time, allowing both components to be perfectly cooked.

What are Spring Onions?

This recipe also uses another spring vegetable: Spring onions. But what are spring onions? The term is often used to describe green onions and scallions although spring onions are actually the early harvest of storage onions, according to Fine Cooking Magazine.

Nonetheless, you can use any of those three — spring onions, scallions or green onions — in this recipe. They are interchangeable in cooking.

While spring onions aren’t yet in season in Maine, I accidentally overwintered some scallions last year (that means I left them in the ground all winter) so we’ve had a treasure trove of them to enjoy this spring. That’s what I have used here.

Spring onions (and scallions and green onions) are often treated as having two parts: The firm white and light green parts, which can be used like onions, and the soft dark green parts, which can be used like an herb or garnish. Avoid any dark green parts that are too tough though (which can sometimes happen with real spring onions).

In this recipe, the light green and white parts are cooked with the risotto and the dark green parts are added at the end.

How to Serve Spring Onion Fiddlehead Risotto

Spring Onion Fiddlehead Risotto is made on the stove. First, the onions (in this case, the white and light green parts of spring onions). Then the arborio rice is added to the pot and cooked with small additions of wine and stock. One of the secrets to perfect risotto is having patience while you cook.

When nearly all the liquid has been added, the fiddleheads, dark green parts of the spring onions, rosemary and parmesan cheese are added to the pan.

Then it’s ready to eat. Divide it between three plates or bowls. Delightful.

This risotto is excellent served with a crisp green salad and bread. Here it’s shown with parmesan crisps, which are also a great accompaniment.

A Virtual Dinner Party

I am so excited to share this recipe for this month’s edition of Progressive Eats, a virtual dinner party formed around the idea of a progressive dinner where attendees go from house to house for different courses. In this case, you go from blog to blog for different courses.

I joined the group, which was created by Barb Kiebel of Creative Culinary, several months ago and have loved the camaraderie among bloggers — and the chance to share recipes around each month’s theme. Last month, I created Mexican Chocolate Pots de Creme. The previous month, I shared Deviled Eggs with Gremolata.

You’ll find links to all the recipes shared for our virtual dinner party this month below my recipe. Do check them out!

Spring Onion Fiddlehead Risotto

Spring Onion Fiddlehead Risotto

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

Creamy, warm and filled with sweet earthiness, this Spring Onion Fiddlehead Risotto is a seasonal treat perfect for enjoying with a crisp salad and bread. Take your time making it and your effort will be rewarded by a perfect dish.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups fiddleheads, cleaned
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 bunches spring onions, white and green parts separated (also known as scallions)
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

Cover the fiddleheads with water and bring to a boil. Boil for 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a pot or Dutch oven.

Cut the white parts of the spring onions into 1-inch segments. Add to the pot and cook, stirring, until they begin to brown — about 5-7 minutes.

Add the arborio rice to the pot and stir to combine. Cook for 1 minute. Then add the wine and stir in. Cook until it’s absorbed.

Add the chicken stock a little (about 1/2 to 3/4 cup) at a time, allowing it to absorb before adding more. Continue until all the stock has been added. 

Slice the dark green parts of the spring onions into 1/4-inch thick pieces. With the final addition of stock add to the pot along with the cooked fiddleheads, rosemary and parmesan cheese. Stir well.

Remove from heat. Season with salt and pepper, as desired. 

Enjoy.

Welcome to Progressive Eats, our virtual version of a Progressive Dinner Party. This month’s theme is Spring Has Sprung: Dishes that highlight ingredients and flavors associated with spring. Our host is Laura who blogs at Mother Would Know.

If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, a progressive dinner involves going from house to house, enjoying a different course at each location. With Progressive Eats it’s a virtual party. A theme is chosen each month, members share recipes suitable for a delicious meal or party, and you can hop from blog to blog to check them out. Come along and see all of the delicious spring-inspired dishes!

Spring Has Sprung

Dishes that highlight ingredients and flavors associated with spring

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Laura @motherwouldknow

Thursday 30th of May 2019

I've seen fiddleheads but never knew what to do with them - until now. Can't wait to find them again at the farmers market, so that I can make this risotto. Love how you've provided so much info on the vegetables in the dish. Really makes me want to try the recipe.

Carol Borchardt

Thursday 30th of May 2019

Risotto is one of my favorite things to make and this looks fantastic! I've heard of fiddleheads but have never had them. Glad to know I can get them online as I'd love to try them! Great spring-inspired recipe!

Beth

Wednesday 29th of May 2019

Wow - what a fantastic post. I've always wanted to know more about fiddleheads and spring onions. And I am so impressed by how you've put them together in this creative dish. I'm working on a menu for a girls weekend and thinking about making this one of the dishes. Question is whether or not I'll be able to find the fiddleheads!

Sarah Walker Caron

Wednesday 29th of May 2019

Thank you!!! I've heard you can buy them online (if you have time for that). But I have also found them throughout New England at grocery stores. If you can't locate them, as Barb noted, asparagus is a good substitute.

Tamara Andersen

Wednesday 29th of May 2019

As I scrolled down, I saw Ansh's comment about ordering fiddleheads online! I'm so excited to try them. Living in hot and humid (year 'round) south Texas, we definitely don't have them. We really don't have but one season - hot! I love making risottos, and if I can get the fiddleheads, I'll be making this one for sure! Beautiful!

Sarah Walker Caron

Wednesday 29th of May 2019

YAY! I didn't even know you *could* order them online until Ansh said that. So cool. Hope you love the risotto!

Karen

Tuesday 28th of May 2019

I've never made risotto and I've never tried fiddleheads! I've got to give this a try. It sounds delicious.

Sarah Walker Caron

Wednesday 29th of May 2019

Yesssss! Do it!