The Queen of Spring: Fiddlehead: Asparagus and Fiddleheads with Hazelnuts and Tarragon Vinaigrette

Violet flowers make a tasty garnish for this spring recipe.

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Serves 4 to 6

This easy dish may be prepared a day in advance.

2 pounds fresh asparagus, white parts snapped off
1 pound fresh fiddleheads, cleaned and trimmed
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/4 cup finely chopped green onion
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 cups French sorrel or spinach
1/3 cup hazelnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
10 violet flowers for garnish

Steam the asparagus and fiddleheads for 4 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain and plunge them into ice water. When cool, drain again and pat dry. Refrigerate, covered, until ready to use.

Whisk together the oil, vinegar, onion, mustard, tarragon, salt, and pepper. At serving time, make a bed of sorrel on a large platter. Arrange the asparagus and fiddleheads on it, drizzle with the vinaigrette, and sprinkle with hazelnuts. Garnish with violets.

Pat Crocker of Hanover, Ontario, Canada, leads walks in which participants learn to identify and gather wild herbs, then prepare them for a gourmet lunch. Her latest cookbook, The Healing Herbs Cookbook (Robert Rose, 1999), features culinary and medicinal herbs in timely, tasty dishes.

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