Fiddlehead Carbonara


For anyone who is not from the Northeast region of the US, you may not know what a fiddlehead is. I’m going to try to attempt to explain them. First of all, I did not grow up eating fiddleheads, so as an adult, the first time I saw a fiddlehead, it looked like a vegetable from another planet. Turns out, the fiddlehead is merely a type of fern before it has unfurled. They are a tightly wound little spiral of green deliciousness, with a flavor that I can only liken to asparagus meets broccoli rabe. They are slightly bitter and perfect sauteed in some garlic butter and topped with a squeeze of lemon. Essentially, you can use the fiddlehead any way you might use asparagus. This rich creamy carbonara dish pairs perfectly with the fresh earthy and slightly bitter flavor of the fiddleheads. Fiddlehead season is very brief in early spring, so if you happen to come across them at the farmers market or grocery store, buy them up. Simply blanch them in some boiling water for a few minutes, rinse with cold water, and freeze in ziplock bags to use once they’ve vanished for another year. Trust me, the few minutes it takes to preserve them is totally worth it.


  • 6 oz. Fettuccine
  • 2 cups fiddleheads, trimmed and cleaned
  • 4 slices bacon, cut with kitchen scissors
  • 2 tablespoons minced onion
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream


In a large pot of boiling salted water, blanch the fiddleheads for 5 minutes. This step is important because it helps remove some of the bitterness.  Drain and rinse with cold water. At this point, the fiddleheads can be refrigerated or frozen.

In a large saute pan, over medium heat, cook the bacon until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Add onion and garlic and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add fiddleheads to the pan and saute for about 6 minutes, or until slightly browned.

Meanwhile, cook pasta according to box instructions.

In a small bowl, whisk together egg yolk, parmesan, cream, and pepper.

Once the pasta is done, reserve a coffee mug full of the cooking water and then drain the pasta. Add the pasta to the saute pan and reduce heat to low. Slowly add the cream mixture, stirring constantly (or else you might scramble the egg…yuck!). If the sauce ends up being too thick, add small amounts of the reserved pasta water to thin it out until desired texture is achieved. Toss in bacon and serve immediately.

Servings: 2

Jenn Knapp

About Jenn Knapp

Jenn is a self-taught home cook who's passionate about using local and seasonal ingredients. She's a stay-at-home mother of two constantly looking for innovative ways to encourage her kids to be healthy and adventurous eaters.