Wednesday, July 2, 2014


Zucchini flowers are most commonly served stuffed and fried. They're delicious that way, but the beautiful colours of the flowers are hidden under the batter and for me, food is about taste and looks. Not fake gimmicky presentations but just the natural good looks of fresh seasonal ingredients. Like the pretty zucchini flowers and ferns in these tacos!

Fiddlehead ferns are the unopened tips of Ostrich ferns that would turn into fronds when they open. They have a very short season in the Spring and don't last too long in the fridge so it's best to get some when you see them in the market (or in the wild if you know how to forage for the right kind of fern), and enjoy them right away, in a day or so at most. Fiddleheads upset some peoples' stomachs but they don't bother me at all. I don't like boiling them because that takes away the texture and taste. So I roast them and they're just perfect!

Zucchini flowers and fiddleheads are quite simple to clean. Zucchini flowers: Remove the pistil and stem from each zucchini flower and gently rinse each flower inside and out. Put the washed flowers on a large dry kitchen towel to soak up water.

Fiddlehead ferns: Remove the outer chaff - brown papery skin - from the ferns and rinse thoroughly. During rinsing remove any remaining chaff and put the washed ferns in a large dry kitchen towel to soak up water. 

These tacos are full of spring flavours and colours! And they go with virtually any salsa, including salsa verde with chiles de arbol, avocado and roasted tomatillo salsa, spicy roasted tomato salsa, guacamole, or even just sliced serranos, avocado, onion, and lime juice.

Tacos: Zucchini Flowers and Fiddlehead Ferns
makes: 6 tacos

- 1/2 cup salsa: salsa verde (recipe here and here) or roasted tomato salsa
- 1 cup fiddlehead ferns, cleaned and washed
- 10 - 12 zucchini flowers, pistils removed and wiped cleaned with a damp towel
- 1 small zucchini, cut into small cubes
- 1/2 medium onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 tsp. olive oil
- 2 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. paprika
- 1 tsp. cumin
- 1 tsp. Mexican oregano (Italian or Greek will do if you don't have Mexican)
- 12 small corn tortillas (ask the store for tortillas for tacos, which are smaller)
- 8-10 sprigs cilantro (1/4 cup coarsely chopped)
- 1/4 cup finely shredded purple cabbage (or red or green cabbage)
- 1 lime, cut into wedges

Optional garnishes: finely shredded carrots, sliced avocado, onions, jalapeno, pickled vegetables "en escabeche"
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F/200 C. Lightly grease a baking tray or line with parchment paper.
  2. Toss the cleaned fern heads with 1 tsp. olive oil, 1 tsp. salt, and paprika. Transfer to the prepared baking tray and roast for 15 min., turning once midway. Remove from the oven.
  3. In a pan, heat the remaining 2 tsp. olive oil and add the onion and garlic. Sauté until translucent then add the zucchini, cumin, oregano, and salt. Cook till the zucchini is slightly soft and add the zucchini flowers. Stir the flowers in, and sauté for a minute. Turn the heat off.
  4. Prep the tacos: Transfer the roasted fern heads and sautéed zucchini and flowers into serving bowls. Arrange the cabbage, cilantro, and any optional garnishes on a platter. Warm the tortillas.
  5. Assemble the tacos: Divide the tortillas among plates, stacking 2 per taco. Top with the roasted fern heads and sautéed vegetables, cilantro, and cabbage. Drizzle 1 tbsp. each of the chipotle cashew cream sauce and salsa on each taco.
  6. Serve immediately with a wedge of lime, additional salsa, cashew cream sauce, and optional garnishes.

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