fiddlehead fern before unfurling

​After a long winter, a short and fickle spring teases Vermonters, and we take heart in spring miracles that restore hope and spirits, like fiddlehead ferns foraged in our woods. Only available for a few weeks in the spring, fiddleheads are curled little wonders packed with protein and iron that serve up a woodsy crunch.      

Tempered by a thin, crisp crust, this tart counters the earthy flavor of fiddleheads with the smooth tang of fresh ricotta spiked with lemon zest to bring out the light spring flavor. If you can’t find fiddleheads, this recipe can be easily adapted with fresh asparagus, either steamed or roasted.

Serves 8

savory tart with fiddleheads

Fiddlehead Tart Ingredients:

  • Flour, for dusting
  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry dough
  • 1 ½ cups fresh fiddleheads (1/2 pound)
  • 4 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, thinly sliced (about ¼ cup)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and thinly sliced (1 cup)
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed and minced (1 teaspoon)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 cups ricotta cheese
  • ½ cup grated Cheddar cheese
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  • Zest of 1 lemon


  1. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry dough to an inch larger than the fluted tart pan you plan to use. Place the dough in the pan and trim off the edges with the back of a spoon or a rolling pin. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  2. Bring a saucepan of water to a boil. Rinse the fiddleheads to remove any grit and place them in a steam basket. Set the steamer basket in the saucepan and steam the fiddleheads for 8 to 10 minutes, or until they are tender-crisp.
  3. Transfer them to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking, then transfer to paper towels to drain. If you don’t have a steamer, drop directly into boiling, salted water
  4. In a medium skillet, heat the olive oil over low heat. Add the shallot and onion and cook, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until soft, about 15 minutes. Add the garlic, store, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Preheat the oven to 375° F.
  5. In a large bowl, blend together the ricotta, cheddar, eggs, chives, and lemon zest. Remove the tart crust from the refrigerator. Spread the cheese mixture evenly over the crust, top with the browned onions, and finally with the fiddleheads. If you’re using asparagus instead, leave the spears whole, which will make for an attractive presentation.
  6. Bake for 40 minutes, until the pastry is golden.  Remove from the oven and let cool on a rack for 5 minutes before slicing and serving.

Want more spring recipes? Check out our recipe for a wild spring greens salad with a light and lemony dressing.

Read more about fiddleheads and where to find them here.

Visit the Vermont Country Store!