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Fiddlehead and Burrata Salad

There’s not much technique to this dish. If you can blanch vegetables, you can make this simple but exquisite spring salad. Fiddlehead ferns won’t be easy to track down outside of early spring. If they’re unavailable in your area, you can substitute any fleshy green vegetable, like fava beans or asparagus.

Burrata is a “purse” of mozzarella cheese stuffed with curds and cream. (Shea Gallante, chef of Ciano in New York City, introduced me to burrata at a dinner shortly after we were both named Best New Chefs by Food & Wine magazine. I was immediately seduced by the milky freshness of its delicate curd, which is softer than mozzarella and only slightly firmer than softened butter.) Try to get burrata in individual, 4-ounce balls. If you can find only 1-pound or 8-ounce purses, make sure you divide them evenly so that each diner gets a bit of the precious insides. If you can’t find burrata, fresh mozzarella is a good substitute.

This vinaigrette has a touch of sweetness to help balance out the tartness of the sherry vinegar. It’s great for salads, vegetables, fish, and even meats.–Colby and Megan Garrelts

LC Fiddledeedee Note

Fiddlehead sorta sounds like it could be the punch line to a loony knock, knock joke, don’t you think? “Knock, knock.” “Who’s there?” “Fiddlehead….” Ahem. Anyways, in case you’ve not a clue who this fiddlehead character is, it’s a funny-looking furled curlicue of a fern frond with a sorta green taste and a surprisingly impressive array of nutrients, including minerals, antioxidants, and essential fatty acids. The only trick is nabbing fiddleheads, which are a harbinger of spring and typically available only for a very short time at farmers’ markets and grocery stores that carry foodstuffs from local farmers. Well, that’s not the only trick. The other one is saying its name without cracking up. Or confusing it and saying fiddledeedee by mistake.

Fiddlehead and Burrata Salad Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 20 M
  • 20 M
  • Serves 4

Ingredients

  • For the sherry vinaigrette
  • 1 1/4 cups olive oil
  • 3 shallots, minced
  • 1 1/4 cups sherry vinegar
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • For the fiddlehead and burrata salad
  • 4 ounces fiddlehead ferns
  • 2 ounces fennel bulb, trimmed and thinly shaved
  • 1 pound burrata cheese, preferably four 4-ounce rounds (see headnote above)
  • 4 teaspoons aged balsamic vinegar or arrope (a sweet Spanish grape must syrup)
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tablespoon Sherry Vinaigrette
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions

  • Make the sherry vinaigrette
  • 1. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a small sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and cook until soft and translucent, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and let the shallots cool completely.
  • 2. In a bowl, whisk together the vinegar and sugar until the sugar dissolves. Vigorously whisk in the remaining oil and the shallots until combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste. You should have about 2 cups. (You can cover and refrigerate the vinaigrette for up to 1 week. Let the vinaigrette come to room temperature and whisk to recombine before using.)
  • Make the fiddlehead and burrata salad
  • 3. Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a rolling boil. Meanwhile, fill a bowl halfway with ice water.
  • 4. Blanch the fiddlehead ferns and shaved fennel by adding them to the boiling water for 45 seconds, then transferring the blanched veggies to the ice water until chilled through to stop the cooking which ought to take just a minute or two. Drain and pat dry.
  • 5. Divide the cheese among 4 plates or shallow serving bowls. Drizzle 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar and 1 tablespoon oil over each portion and season with salt to taste.
  • 6. Toss the fiddlehead ferns and fennel with the reserved vinaigrette and season with salt and pepper to taste. Arrange the salad atop the cheese or position it on the side. Serve immediately.
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