Quinoa with Brown Mushrooms and Fiddleheads

I apologize in advance for not having a photo of the finished dish or any step-by-step photos like usual.  I made this dish to take to dinner at my brother’s house and I was in a bit of rush to get things finished and get out the door. I’m happy to say that the end product was delicious and everyone enjoyed it. I’m also happy to have nabbed some pictures of the fiddle-heads themselves, like the one shown here.

I confess: this was the first time I had ever had fiddle-heads! We came across them at the vegetable market; a vibrant emerald pile of tightly coiled spirals in a tray of cool water. If you have never had them, try them! Who knew that these little coils of fern frond would be so delicious. They have a very “green” taste to them, not unlike broccoli, but more delicate. They are not as “unique” tasting as asparagus, but they definitely have their own personality.

If you are familiar with the concept of terroir then the related saying “If it grows together, it goes together” shouldn’t seem like a stretch. In this case, I’m referring to the combination of mushrooms and fiddle-heads. Admittedly I was not, in this case, as committed or as organized as I could have been, sourcing local wild mushrooms to go with the local fiddle-heads but from the point of view of complimentary flavours, these forest floor dwellers go very nicely together. Enjoy!

Quinoa with Brown Mushrooms and Fiddleheads

1 1/2 cups of quinoa

1tablespoon of olive oil

1 to 1 1/2 cups of fresh fiddle-heads*, trimmed of the tough stalk (about 30)

1 lb brown cremini mushrooms (or a mix of your favourite mushrooms – wild ones would be nice!)

3 scallions, finely chopped

1/2 tsp fresh thyme leaves

3 fresh sage leaves, minced

1 bay leaf

pinch of salt

squirt of lemon juice

zest of 1/4 of a lemon

Cook the quinoa is cooking in 2 1/2 cups of water until fully cooked. Move from the cooking pot to a large bowl, stirring to cool the quinoa and spreading it up the sides of the bowl. Allow to cool to room temperature, about 15 minutes. Saute the fiddleheads and mushrooms with the thyme and sage and the bay leaf. Toss over medium heat until the mushrooms are cooked and the fiddle-heads are tender when poked with a fork or sharp knife. Discard the bay leaf, add the scallions. Add the salt, lemon zest and juice, tossing to combine. Stir the vegetables into the cooled quinoa. Serve immediately or chill and serve. Enjoy!

* if you can’t find fiddle-heads, asparagus or even broccoli, in very small florets would be a nice substitute.

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