I’m not really that into fiddlehead ferns. They show up at the farmers markets in early spring before the big guns steal the show. I can appreciate the locavore devotion living in the PNW. If it came down to nettles or fiddlehead ferns I would choose the former.
Of the limited options for early spring veg nettles provide a wider range of cooking options: pesto, soup, souffle, sautéed.
Nettles, for any culinary preparation, require gloves, a long sleeved shirt, and salted boiling water. Have an ice bath at the ready near the stove top. The nettles must be blanched to remove their stinging nature. Once this step is complete dry them well, like you would frozen spinach. I follow the same method as for basil pesto. Sometimes I will replace pine nuts with walnuts or hazelnuts depending. Parmesan or Pecorino Romano, lemon, olive oil, and a few cloves of garlic round out the ingredients. It’s all blended together to a nice paste-like consistency.
This spring time pesto can be tossed with pasta, mixed with ricotta for a vegetable dip, or smeared on a sandwich. It could be a nice seasonal layer to add to a lasagna.
I haven’t given up on fiddleheads completely.
I might try to tempura fry a batch this spring. That is a big maybe.