Springtime fiddleheads shoots grow in Nikiski, Alaska, on Sunday, May 23, 2021. (Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)

Springtime fiddleheads shoots grow in Nikiski, Alaska, on Sunday, May 23, 2021. (Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)

On the strawberry patch: Alaska primavera

Fresh fiddleheads add an Alaska twist to this pasta classic.

By Tressa Dale

For the Peninsula Clarion

I heard a noise in my sleep the other night and sat up in my bed. I looked out toward the lake and saw a scrawny young moose, recently liberated from her pregnant mother’s care, bent down on her knees grazing on the new grass and fireweed shoots in the wild space right outside my bedroom window.

She came so close that, if my family hadn’t been sleeping in the same room with me, I would have opened the window to give her a pet and chase the mosquitoes away. Instead, I sat and watched her pass back and forth, gleefully munching on the fresh new greens of spring. It was in that moment I remembered I had seen fiddleheads nearby just that morning and I knew I needed to get some.

While many people enjoy fiddleheads simply sauteed with butter and garlic as a side dish, I think they are best used as a component to a composed dish. This recipe is a version of a classic springtime pasta dish that features fresh foraged fiddleheads.

Alaska primavera

1 pound penne pasta

2 cups cleaned fresh fiddleheads

½ of a large red onion

2 cups chopped kale

1 large carrot

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

½ cup Parmesan cheese

2 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon herbs de Provence

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and set your salted pasta water on to boil.

Wash and cut vegetables. The carrot should be cut into penne-length and chopstick-width pieces, the onion into strips of the same length. Treat the fiddleheads very gently to keep from unrolling while cleaning so you have cute spirals in the finished product.

Toss your vegetables (except the tomatoes, keep them separate until the end) in oil, spread them out on oiled baking sheet(s), and season with the herbs de Provence and salt and pepper.

Roast for 15 minutes or until carrots are tender.

While the vegetables are in the oven, boil your pasta according to the instructions. Try your best to time it so the pasta and vegetables are done at the same time.

Drain your pasta and return to the pot.

Remove the vegetables from the oven and let rest 1 minute while you mix the Parmesan into the pasta. Add the vegetables, including the tomatoes, and mix very gently. Serve immediately.

This dish is meant to highlight whatever fresh vegetables are available so feel free to include or remove whatever you wish. Asparagus, peas, zucchini and spinach are great options. My rule with this dish (and with all meals) is to include at least one green thing and at least one red thing. The more colorful the meal the more interesting and nutritious it will be. This dish is classically vegetarian, but if you want some protein, you might add a roasted chicken breast or some baked salmon on the side to complete the meal.

Fiddleheads might not be particularly spectacular on their own, but their emergence among the dead grass is an indicator of a very special time of the year, the peak of spring, when the young moose are pushed out into the world on their own to make way for newborns, and the loons and cranes stake their nesting grounds. This meal is the perfect dinner for a spring day spent with soil-stained hands and dirty knees in front of garden beds.

A moose grazes on fresh greens on Thursday, May 20, 2021 in Nikiski, Alaska. (Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)

A moose grazes on fresh greens on Thursday, May 20, 2021 in Nikiski, Alaska. (Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)

More in Life

Central Peninsula General Hospital as it appeared in its first year of operation, 1971. (Photo provided by Peninsula General Hospital)
A hospital is born, slowly (Part 6)

By Clark Fair For the Peninsula Clarion Author’s note: This is the… Continue reading

File
Minister’s Message: Seeing God’s light on the longest day

In the beginning, God said, “Let there be light.”

Homer artist Jenna Gerrety straightens paintings currently being shown at Sustainable Wares. (Photo by McKibben Jackinsky)
Regeneration of art and man: Gerrety finds inspiration in nature

Put nature and man together and what do you get? For starters,… Continue reading

Cheddar biscuits go hand in hand with summer seafood catch. Photographed on Saturday, June 12, 2021, in Nikiski, Alaska. (Photo by Tressa Dale)
On the strawberry patch: Cheddar biscuits for your fresh catch

For a lot of the country, cheddar biscuits go hand in hand with seafood because of the popularity of a certain chain seafood restaurant.

Virginia Walters (Courtesy photo)
Life in the Pedestrian Lane: Lost cause?

My particular peeve right now is the politicians and media personalities who are negatively brandishing the fact that you may need another corona shot in a year.

Cheechako News file photo from KPC’s Kenai Peninsula Historical Photo Repository
Joe Faa, who in 1965 sold 10 acres of his Soldotna homestead as a construction site for a new hospital, poses here in about 1961 with his prize horse Danny. Faa’s horse corral and hay fields are the reason for the name Corral Street in Soldotna.
A hospital is born, slowly (Part 5)

It had been almost five full years since the start of a project to establish a hospital for the central Kenai Peninsula.

File
Minister’s Message: Love, not efficiency, defines success

Becoming so wrapped up in looking good and even in being good causes us to sacrifice relationships.

Photos by Michael Armstrong / Homer News
Mary Beth Leigh, director of the Microbial Worlds project, stands next to the exhibit on June 4 at the Pratt Museum & Park in Homer. The exhibit shows through the summer of 2021. Left, “Emergence,” by Nancy Hausle-Johnson.
‘Microbial World’ blends science, art

Exhibit postponed by the pandemic opens at Pratt Museum & Park in Homer.

Tressa Dale / Peninsula Clarion
Feta and Parmesan cheese, cherry tomatoes, carrot, yellow bell pepper, asparagus, purple potatoes, beets and white button mushrooms form into a rainbow with a cheesy heart on focaccia bread.
On the strawberry patch: Colorful food for a colorful world

Rainbow vegetables adorn this colorful focaccia canvas.

Most Read