I am still finding fiddleheads in the nooks and crannies of my freezer. Last spring I put together a bulk order from my little town and brought in 25 pounds of these delicate fern tips from the boreal forests of Northern Saskatchewan. I pickled a few to sell at the market. They were a curiosity and sold well. I find that a few pickled fiddleheads add an artistic touch to a charcuterie platter.
In addition to buying more than I really needed for myself there were a couple of no-shows on pick up orders. Hence, the freezer stash.
For no particular reason I have always thought these to be uniquely Canadian or at least North American. My Canadian born cousin living in New Zealand was baffled by fiddleheads until I gave a description. I have since been introduced to pikopiko ferns, as the Maori call them. This pesto is inspired by a Maori recipe.
The tenderloin would benefit from a generous crust of sea salt and coarse black pepper. I failed to think of this until it was on my fork. The pesto is not salted, other than the Parmesan cheese.
Removing the silver skin from the tenderloin takes this dish from the ordinary to the gourmet. Silver skin does not tenderize with cooking.
I was delighted to find that the unique flavour of the fiddleheads does shine through. It isn't simply a flavourful stuffing but also a delightful way to serve a vegetable.
The pesto recipe can fill three tenderloins. If you are only cooking one save the remainder to use on flatbreads and crostini just as a basil pesto might.
Pork Tenderloin Stuffed with Fiddlehead Pesto
1 pork tenderloin
1 recipe Fiddlehead Pesto
Heat canola oil in a large heavy bottomed pan. Brown the tenderloin on all sides. Then place in a 350F oven until it reaches an internal temperature of 160F. Remove from oven and tent with foil to rest for 10 minutes. Slice and serve with any juices that collected on the bottom of the dish.
3 cups of boiling water with a pinch of salt
250g frozen or fresh fiddlehead greens, approx. 2 cups
1/3 cup olive oil, add more if needed
3 tablespoons crushed pine nuts or walnuts
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
Cook fiddleheads in boiling water with salt 8 minutes, drain very well. Set aside.
Crush nuts and garlic in a mortar and pestle. Add to a food processor. Add fiddleheads, olive oil and parmesan cheese. Process until smooth. Presto. You are done. Use as desired.