Fiddleheads, Green Olives and Almond Salad

Fiddleheads Olive and Almonds Salad

Now here is something I don’t eat all that often. MAYBE once a year, if that. Not too sure why, though, because I happen to really like them.

Maybe it’s because I used to always have them the exact same way: steamed, then sauteed in butter with salt, pepper and LOADS of garlic.

I don’t really do garlic anymore.

It’s not that I don’t like it or that I think it’s not good for me. No way. It’s just that I don’t care much about having it on my breath for so long!

So I guess I had pretty much given up on eating fiddleheads because I didn’t want to reek of garlic.

But when they came in season this year, I decided that I HAD to have some. I figured they should still taste good even without the millions of cloves of garlic.

And I was right! They do! I think I like ‘em even better without.

They have an extremely fresh flavor to them. And a very interesting soft yet firm texture. But what I like best about them is their “alienesque” appearance. You have to admit that they do look pretty unique!

Another thing that I made differently this time is I enjoyed my fiddleheads cold and added them to a salad.

Or rather, made them the star of a salad.

First, I steamed them for the recommended 10 minutes (I really wish I didn’t have to cook them for THAT long, but that would be the minimum recommended cooking time to avoid foodborne illness*) then I plunged them in icy cold water to stop the cooking process and preserve their beautiful color.

Fiddleheads Olive and Almonds Salad

I still added a touch of garlic, in the form of fermented garlic flowers to my vinaigrette, but frankly, this doesn’t even compare. Fermented garlic flowers have a very mild flavor that doesn’t really stay on your breath like raw garlic does. They just add a little bit of a fragrance, without taking over and overpowering the taste of every other guest that had been invited to join the party…

You know what? I think this was my favorite way of enjoying fiddleheads so far.

I really wish I could’ve repeated the experience, but their season is so short, the next time I was at the grocery store, they’d already disappeared.

Oh well… there’s always next year.

At least, now I know that I like them even sans the garlic.

Fiddleheads, Green Olives and Almonds Salad

Yield: Serves 1

Fiddleheads, Green Olives and Almonds Salad


  • 1½ cup fiddleheads
  • ½ avocado, diced
  • ½ yellow bell pepper, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup radicchio, shredded
  • 10-12 large green olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
  • 25g raw almonds, coarsely chopped
  • Vinaigrette
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp fermented garlic flowers
  • ¼ tsp each salt and pepper
  • ½ tsp unpasteurized liquid honey
  • The juice of 1 lime
  • 1/8 tsp guar gum


  1. Cut off the ends of the stems of the fiddleheads. Place them in a bowl of cold water and swirl them around to clean them thoroughly. Discard water and repeat process.
  2. Drain the fiddleheads and steam them in a steam basket for at least 10-12 minutes, then place them in icy cold water for 1 or 2 minutes to stop the cooking process.
  3. Drain and transfer to serving plate. Set aside.
  4. Add all the ingredients of the dressing to your small food processor or blender and process until nice and smooth. Set aside.
  5. Toast almonds in a small non stick pan, over medium heat, for about 2 minutes or until they take a nice golden color. Remove from heat and set aside.
  6. Place radicchio, bell pepper, avocado, olives and almonds on top of reserved fiddleheads.
  7. Pour vinaigrette over salad at the moment of service.

*There have apparently been cases of temporary illness in Canada and the United States associated with eating raw or undercooked fiddleheads. To date, studies have not determined the cause of these illnesses. Read more about it here

Fiddleheads Olive and Almonds Salad

Fiddleheads Olive and Almonds Salad

Fiddleheads Olive and Almonds Salad

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  1. Eha says

    Would you believe I have travelled the world for many a year and I have never heard of fiddleheads, not edible ones anyway! I know of a large fern in Australia, called the fiddlehead fern, but that can only be found in Botanical Gardens and parks and was, I thought, poisonous!! Looks like a very nice salad too :) ! About garlic: I use literally tons [3-4 cloves even just for myself!] and I have never had garlic breath or tummy upset! And I eat it both raw and cooked! I guess we are all individuals – I can’t imagine all the Asian and Mediterranean cooking I do [about 80% of my menus] without it :) !

    • says

      Wow, for real? Oh my… they are so readily available here when they are in season that I never even considered that people wouldn’t have heard of them. Well, let me tell you, if you ever come across them, do buy them. They are very well worth having, with OR without garlic (although I get the feeling that, in your case, it would be WITH!) ;)

      • Eha says

        Am I not going to be the ‘smart one’ when next talking to my greengrocers – of course will ‘pretend’ I have known about them forever :) ! But, a) they do seem to be a fern and b) others reading don’t seem to have used them either!! SO good to learn!!

      • says

        Oh, but they ARE a fern, Eha! They are the young, unopened leaves of the Ostrich Fern, which is a beautiful, giant fern that grows pretty much freely around here. I’m really surprised that so many people have never heard of them. Trust me, you WANT to give them a try. They are pretty unique and very interesting. And all that talk about them has made me crave more… but they are totally out of season now, so I will have to wait until next year! If you can’t find them in your area, I might have to invite you over to come and enjoy some with me! ;)

  2. says

    I really had to look closely at your last picture to realize fiddleheads are baby ferns? Never knew you could possibly eat those! Would love to try them but it seems unlikely I’ll find them here…

    • says

      That’s kind of what they are indeed, Simone. Ferns that have not yet “deployed”. Do you have ferns that grow in the wild where you live? Here, they grow like everywhere you look. So maybe that’s why fiddleheads would be so popular. But they do not last long, as one has to harvest them at just the right time, i.e., right after they’ve emerged from the ground but before their leaves start to expand. Let’s just say the window is rather small…

  3. says

    As a prairie girl it wasn’t until I lived in Nova Scotia that I first ate fiddleheads… loved them! Now back in Calgary fiddleheads are now available in the local grocery stores when they are in season… you are right, Sonia, it is a very short season! … and I have never had them with garlic – funny that! Must try that :)
    Thanks again for your great food ideas. Oh and your photos are terrific!

    • says


      I so badly want to go there, one day. I’m once again thinking of going this summer. Looks soooooo beautiful there! I would have to take TONS of photos!

      Thank you so much for your compliments on my photos and food ideas. I sincerely appreciate them! :)

  4. says

    I only eat fiddleheads once a year two, if that… but only because the season is so short! Wish it was a little bit longer so I could enjoy this beautiful salad too.

  5. says

    Oh, what a beautiful salad! I’ve read so much about fiddleheads, but never knew what they looked like until very recently. Where do you find them? Do you forage them yourself, or buy them?

    • says

      We get them at the grocery store here, although one could easily harvest them in the wild, if they knew where to find them. They actually are young, unopened ostrich ferns leaves. I might plant some right in my backyard next year… that way, I’ll know exactly where to find them. But I get the feeling I won’t even want to harvest them, I’ll want to let them grow to become the beautiful giant ferns that they are! ;)

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