Spring Fiddlehead Pasta

Here's a dish that turns a modest amount of fiddlehead ferns into a meal (or a nice first course). Ricotta, butter and some of the starchy pasta-cooking water make a creamy sauce. Lemon and pepper give all that richness a little pizzazz. If you have a chunk of sharp pecorino on hand, pass it with a grater at the table.
  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 20 min
  • Prep: 5 min
  • Cook: 15 min
  • Yield: 4 servings
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Kosher salt

12 ounces fusilli pasta

3/4 cup ricotta cheese

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

Freshly ground black pepper

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 1/2 cups fiddlehead ferns


  1. Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil, add the pasta and cook until very al dente, about 9 minutes. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water and drain the pasta.
  2. Combine the ricotta, lemon zest and a few grinds of black pepper in small bowl and set aside.
  3. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once the butter begins to foam, add the fiddleheads and sprinkle with pepper and 3/4 teaspoon of salt. Cook, stirring gently, until the fiddleheads are crisp-tender and caramelized, 3 to 4 minutes.
  4. Remove the skillet from the heat and transfer the fiddleheads to a bowl. Add the lemon juice, cooked pasta and reserved water to the skillet and return to medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer and cook until the sauce thickens slightly and the pasta is al dente. Add the ricotta mixture and lightly toss until the pasta is just coated.
  5. Divide the pasta among 4 bowls and top with the fiddleheads and a few grinds of black pepper.
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