Fiddlehead ferns are wild herbs that appear in early spring, especially here in the Pacific Northwest. Unlike the ubiquitous morels and stinging nettles that are always popping up at the farmers market, fiddlehead ferns tend to be more rare. These delicate herbs have a short harvest window, so be sure to catch them before they completely disappear for the year.

If you haven’t heard of them before, they’re these beautiful, jade-green, curly foraged herbs that brighten up spring salads and pasta. They are also delicious simply sautéed in butter, or pickled. Be sure to cook them for at least 10 minutes to avoid potential food-borne illnesses associated with wild herbs.

Fiddlehead ferns taste like a cross between broccoli and asparagus—slightly bitter, but crunchy and earthy. Marvelous, isn’t it? Such bespoke a flavor profile. It’s almost impossible to imitate.

Pappardelle with Fiddlehead Ferns & Capers

  • Prep Time:15 minutes
  • Cook Time:15 minutes
  • Total Time:25 minutes
  • Servings:4
  • Medium


  • 4 oz pappardelle pasta (cooked)
  • 2 cup fiddlehead ferns
  • 2 tablespoon capers (chopped)
  • 2 tablespoon butter
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • pinch Salt
  • pinch Pepper
By Pavindra Maheswaren
  • Step 1

    Clean the fiddlehead ferns carefully by soaking them in ice water for a few minutes. Repeat as necessary, until the dirt has been removed.

  • Step 2

    Cook the fiddlehead ferns in boiling water for 10-15 minutes, until tender. Once cooked, place them immediately in an ice bath to prevent them from cooking any further.

  • Step 3

    In a skillet, melt the butter then add the garlic and the capers. Cook for 2 minutes before adding the fiddleheads. Then cook for an additional 3 minutes.

    Photo by Pavindra Maheswaren
  • Step 4

    Add the pasta to the skillet and season with salt and pepper.

    Photo by Pavindra Maheswaren
  • Step 5

    Remove from heat and toss with lemon juice and Parmesan cheese.

    Photo by Pavindra Maheswaren