Rigatoni with Basil-Avocado Pesto & Roasted Fiddleheads and Squash.

There are several reliable indications that spring has arrived in Ontario. Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve seen a lot of the rain, a less than pleasant, but pivotal herald of the new season.  But with the wet deluge comes other more amiable spring things. It’s finally holding at a mostly pleasant temperature, the trees and foliage have filled in, and the farmer’s markets are up and running.  There is a lot of fresh local produce that starts to make a regular appearance this time of year, but one is a more distinctly spring sighting than the others.  Fiddleheads, the curly green fern fronds, have, for me anyway, become synonymous with spring.

If you have never tried Fiddleheads, they are comparable in taste and texture to asparagus.  They are rich in antioxidants, Omega-3s, and Omega-6s, and are high in iron and fiber as well.  There are some precautions to take when preparing Fiddleheads. I’m not sure why you would try, but don’t eat Fiddleheads raws.  Make sure they’re thoroughly cooked. I’ve noticed that a lot of markets will keep them stored in water – I’m sure there’s some logic in this, but don’t assume it’s to keep them clean. They need to be washed thoroughly, several times, before cooking.

Here’s a link to the Government of Canada’s website with some Fiddlehead safety tips:
https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/food-safety-fruits-vegetables/fiddlehead-safety-tips.html.  They recommend cooking them in boiling water prior to doing anything else with them (saute, bake, etc). For this recipe, I cooked them in the oven from raw, but if you want to be extra cautious you can cook them beforehand, and then add them to the squash about half-way through the cooking time.

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Ingredients (will make 3-4 servings)
For the Vegetables:
1 Butternut Squash
1/4 cup of olive oil
1 tsp of salt & pepper
1 tbsp of garlic powder or granules
1 tbsp of hemp seeds
1 1/2 cup of fiddleheads

For the Pesto:
2 avocados
1 cup of basil leaves
1/4 cup of pine cups
1/4 cup of nutritional yeast
1/2 cup of water
3 tsp of salt
1/4 cup of oil

For the Pasta:
454g of rigatoni

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Directions
1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
2. Peel, core, wash and dice the squash – it should be cut into fairly small chunks so that it cooks at an even pace with the fiddleheads. Wash fiddleheads thoroughly.  Place the squash and fiddleheads in a medium-sized mixing and add in the olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder or granules, hemp seeds.  Mix until the vegetables are thoroughly coated.
3. Spread the vegetables out on the baking sheet. Cook the vegetables at 400 degrees for 30 minutes
4.  Make the pesto. In a blender or food processor add the avocados, basil, pine nuts, nutritional yeast, water, salt, and oil.  Blend until smooth.
5.  Cook the pasta according to package instruction, keeping in mind that overcooked pasta in one of the great sins of the culinary world.  Al dente always.
6.  Drain the water from the pasta.  Add in the pesto and cook on low heat until the pesto is warm.
7.  Top with the finished vegetables and serve!

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