Fiddlehead Recipe Ideas with Rob Ottaviano

We talked to a local food expert about the many different ways to prepare fiddleheads. Rob Ottaviano is the food and beverage director at Ignite PI at the Northeastland Hotel. He also spent almost 15 years doing food service at NMCC.

Ottaviano has a couple great Italian food ideas as well as some simple roasting suggestions, and a very traditional northern Maine pairing. These are not full recipes, but good ideas on making fiddleheads a main ingredient. 

Substitute Fiddleheads for Some Green Veggies

Ottaviano said the best way to think about preparing a dish is to “substitute fiddleheads with basically anything you would do with asparagus, green beans or brussel sprouts.” With that in mind, there are a lot of different ways to make different recipes.

Rob Ottaviano
Rob Ottaviano

Roasted Fiddleheads

Roasting fiddleheads like you would brussel sprouts is one of the simplest and tasty ways to cook them. “Use a little extra virgin olive oil. Some good parmesan cheese, a balsamic glaze reduction and in the oven. It’s wonderful,” said Ottaviano.

Fiddlehead Pizza

That's a good place to start, but how about a fiddlehead pizza? There are all kinds of ways like a traditional red sauce and cheese with your favorite toppings. Ottaviano suggested an alfredo style. “Last year at NMCC, I made fiddlehead pizza. I just blanched them a little bit first. I figured kind of like a broccoli pizza with some garlic and a little alfredo on there. It was fantastic.”

Fiddlehead Lasagna

Another Italian dish is a veggie lasagna with fiddleheads. “Normally you would use a green vegetable like spinach with the ricotta cheese. You can layer the fiddleheads in there with your lasagna noodles. it’s a perfect substitute.”

Fiddlehead Chowder

Fiddlehead chowder is another delectable item to add to your menu. If you already have a great recipe, stick to that with that and add fiddleheads to put it over the top. Ottaviano said, “Make your basic chowder base with onions, butter and saute. You want to build it up with a little flour like a rue. Don’t add the fiddleheads until right at the very end. Fill it up with half and half or heavy cream. Maybe a little bit of chicken stock and you got a winner.”

Fiddleheads and Brook Trout

A traditional dish this time of year in northern Maine is trout and fiddleheads. It’s the flavor of the season. “In Aroostook County, this time of year, fishing season is opening. Two things that go together are fiddleheads and brook trout. You can go fishing and pick fiddleheads at the same time. That’s kind of why they go together,” said Ottaviano.

Fiddlehead Tempura

One last idea is fiddlehead tempura. Ottaviano said one of the competitors at last year’s cooking competition made it and it was fantastic. “It was from one of our local BBQ truck guys. He did a fiddlehead tempura with a light batter, deep fried, I tell you it was out of this world.”

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Share Your Ideas

There are a lot of options and you probably have some incredible ways to make fiddleheads with recipes passed down from one generation to another. Or, maybe you want to make something you’ve never tried before. Share your dishes with us.

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