In my twenties, Stella D’Oro day lilies, became all the rage. Compact, and dense, they offer low clusters of foliage covered with small golden-yellow flowers. Even better, unlike any other daylily on the market at the time, they flowered continuously, almost all summer long.
In my thirties I watched the ascendence of the Knock Out rose, disease resistant and shrubby, it too flowered from late spring to frost. Both plants have become ubiquitous in the American landscape and blanket my home city of Washington, DC. They are both great garden performers and beautiful plants from foliage to flower.
Lately, however, I’ve been pining for something more ephemeral – the bright burst of witch hazel, blooming on bare branches in late winter. I want the late spring explosion of iris and perennial geraniums, columbine and peonies that give way to early summer daisies and phlox, all disappearing before the season’s progression of Sedums and Black-Eyed Susans.
I feel the same way at the table. I want my asparagus in spring. I’ll wait, salivating, bypassing Georgia corn until the first fresh ears arrive from southern Maryland. And I want fiddleheads, harvested from the wild, only available for three to four weeks each spring. I’ll set the table with a big vase of peonies. Then we can move onto summer.
Fiddlehead Tacos with Cilantro Red Onion Salsa
The first comment our photographer Sam made was, you sure there’s no meat in here? These tacos are rich with portobello mushrooms, earthy and green with fiddlehead ferns, and get a bright, fresh note from a cilantro and red onion salsa. Can’t find fiddleheads? Substitute fresh asparagus.
- 1 bunch cilantro, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 red onion, finely diced
- 1 tbs sherry vinegar*
- 1 tbs olive oil – the good stuff!
- 1/2 tsp ancho chile powder*
- 1/4 tsp cumin
- 1/2 lb fiddlehead ferns
- 2 tbs olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 portabello mushroom caps
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp ancho chile powder*
- Sherry vinegar*
- 1 cup crumbled queso fresco
*You can substitute ancho chile with the chile powder on your shelf and a pinch of cayenne. Shop Sapore for Cava Rosé the perfect answer to a spring and summer weight red wine vinegar.
- Stir together all of the salsa ingredients. Let it rest for flavors to develop.
- Bring a 3 quart pot of salted water to a boil.
- Meanwhile, heat 2 tbs olive oil in a 12” skillet. Add garlic and cook 30 seconds until fragrant. Add mushrooms and begin to cook.
- Add fiddleheads to boiling water and cook for 4 minutes. Remove from water and add to pan with mushrooms. Continue to cook until mushrooms are softened and browning on edges.
- Toss with cumin and ancho chile powder. Season to taste with salt, pepper and sherry vinegar.
- Season cilantro salsa to taste with salt, pepper and more vinegar if needed
- Serve fiddleheads and mushrooms in warm, flour tortillas with queso fresco and cilantro salsa.