Scott and I went hiking this last weekend and the higher elevation brought with it emerging fiddlehead ferns. Each young green shoot seemed to reach out, just beginning to unfurl it’s wild main, before springing open to greet the sky. They’re hard to miss even if you’re not really looking for them. We picked just enough to bring back home with us to make pizzas and left the rest to reach their full frond potential for the season.
Which brings me to my new favorite thing; open fire grilling. Oh my goodness, does it make food take on a whole new level of flavor! Last month, when May brought with it some unseasonably warm weather, we put together a make-shift fire pit on our back deck and got to cooking. Since my youth and adult life have always involved outdoor camping trips, I’ve had plenty of things cooked over fire, but while smores and veggie kabobs are the norm, cooking over fire with the convenience of a kitchen is a whole other story.
Inspiration for serving the fiddleheads on pizza came from Katrina. Her fiddlehead tart got me thinking and I just couldn’t get the idea of pizza out of my mind. Smothered with oregano pesto (I have an explosion of oregano in my garden… always), tart thinly sliced lemon, and a smoky crust and this pizza satisfied all my flavor needs.
If you are lucky to find fiddlehead ferns at your local farmers market pick some up and try them out. They’re best young and tender, so the season is extremely short. If you’re up for foraging some yourself, please do so with caution and care. Never eat something you can’t identify with 100% certainty and don’t over pick either. Market fiddleheads usually come pre-washed, the ones you pick yourself will still have little brown hairs that just need to be washed off. It’s best to blanch them for several minutes before cooking too.
Grilled Fiddlehead Fern (or Asparagus) Pizza with Oregano Pesto & Lemon / serves 4
Because the season for fiddleheads is so short and because I know not everyone may like them, I made the pizza’s with asparagus as well with just as tasty of results. Cooking these pizzas over fire is truly my method of choice, but theKitchn does have a great how–to on the topic of pizza grilling.
homemade pizza dough or dough of choice
oregano pesto, recipe below
about 1/2 lb. fiddlehead ferns and/or asparagus, blanched for 3-4 minutes
1 lemon, very thinly sliced
fresh oregano for serving, optional
shredded Parmesan, optional
olive oil for brushing
While the fire gets nice and hot, get all your ingredients ready.
Roll pizza dough out to desired thickness and brush one side with olive oil. Place oiled side down on fire grate and let cook for 2-3 minutes. Once the dough bubbles up and gets grill marks remove with metal tongs, set on a plate and spread the grilled (cooked) side with pesto. Next add the lemon slices and fiddleheads (or asparagus) and place back over the fire and cover to cook another 4-5 minutes or until the underside is cooked.
Repeat with the remaining pizza dough and toppings. Serve garnished with extra fresh oregano and Parmesan if desired.
1 cup firmly packed fresh oregano
1 garlic clove
1/2 cup raw almonds
big pinch red pepper flakes
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/4-1/3 cup olive oil
salt to taste
Place the garlic in a food processor and pulse several times until roughly chopped up. Add the oregano, almonds, red pepper flakes, and Parmesan and blend until everything starts to come together. While the food processor is still running, drizzle in the olive oil, adding just enough until it reaches your desired consistency. Taste and add salt if needed.