1 pound (about 6 cups) fiddlehead ferns
1 large red onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 to 2 small green chiles, or to taste
One 2-inch piece fresh ginger, chopped
2 tablespoons virgin coconut oil
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 cup coconut milk
1 ½ teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon jaggery or unrefined brown sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
1. Clean the fiddleheads: Brush away as much of the light brown papery sheath from the fiddleheads as possible, then wash the fiddleheads in several changes of cold water.
2. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Add the fiddleheads, return to a boil, and boil for 5 minutes. Drain, then rinse the fiddleheads. Rinse the saucepan, dry it, and return it to the stovetop.
3. Meanwhile, make the red onion paste: Combine the red onion, garlic, chile, and ginger in a food processor and process to a paste, scraping the sides of the machine as needed and adding a little water if needed to loosen it.
4. Heat the coconut oil in the saucepan over medium heat. Add the mustard seeds and cook for about 2 minutes, until they start to pop. Add the red onion paste and cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes, until the paste thickens and no longer smells raw.
5. Add ¾ cup of the coconut milk, 1 cup water, and the fiddleheads. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat and cook, stirring frequently, until the fiddleheads are tender and a darker shade of green, about 10 minutes.
6. Add the salt and jaggery and stir in the remaining ¼ cup coconut milk. Return to a simmer to heat through. Add the lime juice, taste, and adjust the seasonings with salt, jaggery, and lime juice if needed. Stir in the cilantro and serve.
Leda Scheintaub’s latest work is The Sage and the Cook: Two Generations of Gluten and Dairy Free Cooking, an e-book series in collaboration with whole foods pioneer Rebecca Wood. The first book in the series is Soups and Stews, available from Amazon for $2.99. She is also the coauthor (with Denise Mari) of the forthcoming Organic Avenue; coauthor (with Carol Alt) of Easy, Sexy Raw; the recipe developer for The Ciao Bella Book of Gelato and Sorbetto; and author of Chipotle: Smoky Hot Recipes for All Occasions. She is also a graduate of the chef’s training program at the Natural Gourmet Institute in New York. She has been a freelance writer, editor, and recipe tester for the past ten years. She lives with her husband in southern Vermont, where you’ll often find her at the Brattleboro Area Farmers’ Market.