Fiddlehead Salad with Bacon and Balsamic Vinaigrette

Washing the fiddleheads. Again.
I think of fiddleheads as a quintessentially New England ingredient, and it seems these young fronds of the ostrich fern aren’t generally eaten outside of the North Atlantic region of the US and Canada. If you don’t have fiddleheads near you, you can certainly use asparagus. They have a similar light vegetable flavor.

This is my take on a recipe Mia remembers from her childhood in New Hampshire, where you can find fiddleheads growing wild. I bought ours from a local farm at the Somerville Winter Farmers’ Market.


  • 1 qt fiddleheads
  • 2 slices bacon
  • olive oil
  • balsamic vinegar
  • salt
  • pepper

Serves two as a side dish.

It just so happened that our butcher counter had some maple cured, maple and apple-smoked bacon from Vermont. Sticking with the New England theme, I bought a couple of slices of that for this salad.


  1. bacon
    Rendering the Bacon
    Clean the fiddleheads to remove most of the brown papery skin. This took several washes, immersing in water, dumping, and repeating. You’ll never get them completely clean, so do your best.
  2. Boil fiddleheads in heavily salted water for 15 minutes. When done, immediately shock in cold/iced water, drain, and stash in the fridge.
  3. Chop bacon into small pieces and render on medium heat until most of the fat is out of the meat.
  4. fiddlehead bacon salad
    Fiddlehead Bacon Salad
    Make a simple vinaigrette from 3 parts olive oil, 1 part balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper. I make this in a small canning jar, and shake it all up until it’s emulsified.
  5. To serve: Plate the fiddleheads, top with bacon, and drizzle with the vinaigrette. Delicious!

You’ll notice in the photo that the dressing is separated. I tried to be all fancy and have a deconstructed vinaigrette. Not recommended. Shake it up and pour it on like a normal human.