Fire up the stove! Exotic, delicious wild morels are a fleeting spring vegetable (though available dried year-round). Photo by Yin Yang | IST.
KAREN HOCHMAN is Editorial Director of THE NIBBLE.
Meet The Morel
Part III: Morel Mushroom Recipes
This is Part III of a three-part article. Use the index below to click among the sections.
IN PART III
You can find a bounty of morel mushroom recipes online or in your cookbooks. We’ve included two award-winners below and links to many more more recipes from Marx Foods’ recent morel recipe competition.
Basic Morel Cooking
The first basic to learn is that morels must be cooked: It is not a mushroom that can be eaten raw. Compounds within the fungus, that are neutralized by heat, make humans ill. Mushroom lovers who can’t wait to sink their teeth into a fresh, fragrant morel need to restrain themselves.
- For sautéed morels: Sauté in butter for 5 to 7 minutes over low heat. Some people prefer to sauté mushrooms in olive oil; but morels’ meaty flavors pair better with in butter or oil.
- For gravies, sauces, soups and stews: Simmer morels for 15 to 20 minutes. Their strong flavor stands up well to hearty dishes.
Substitute morels for mushrooms in most recipes: They bring more flavor, a true richness. Beef, chicken, fish, lamb, pasta, polenta, pork—there is no wrong way to go.
One of the right ways to go is to pair morels with other spring vegetables: asparagus, fiddlehead ferns and ramps. Our favorite, easy spring dish is a true Pasta Primavera made with these three vegetables, because they are available only in springtime. Sauteed simply in butter with a clove or two of garlic, served over fettuccine or pappardelle, we relish each bite. (You can add a protein such as scallops and/or shrimp.) Braised leeks with morels is a wonderful—and equally easy—first course.
Here are the two winning recipes from Marx Foods’ recent contest, which allowed mushrooms other than morels to be used in the recipe. You can find a treasure trove of 122 mushroom recipes on their website. In addition to the two winners featured below, the finalists were:
- Mushrooms en Papillote (#27)
- Dirty Brandy Cream Pasta (#32)
- Morel-Stuffed Cornish Game Hens (#79)
- Sun-Dried Tomato & Porcini Mushroom Vinaigrette (#112)
- Polenta/Poached Egg/ Mushroom Gravy (#119)
Morels With Scallops & Asparagus
The first winning recipe is simple yet delicious, and the morels really shine. It was created by Albert J. Casciero of Washington, D.C.
- 8 large fresh scallops
- 16 large morels (the number depends on their size—more are needed if the morels are tiny; dry morels can also be used)
- 20 large fresh asparagus spears
(or a larger number of slender
- 1 teaspoon minced shallot
- 6 ounces heavy cream
- 4 ounces unsalted butter
Salt and pepper to taste
Photo by Ryan Clark | MarxFoods.com.
- Brush-clean the morels and slice them lengthwise (or leave whole, depending on their size).
- Clean the asparagus and peel or snap the lower part. Steam or boil the asparagus to an al dente consistency. You may wish to sauté them slightly in butter before serving.
- In a sauté pan, melt the butter, add the shallot and sauté for about 1 minute. Add the morels and toss to coat well with the butter. Depending on the freshness of the mushrooms, you can add more butter now, or at the end, to have sufficient sauce for the asparagus.
- Dust the scallops lightly with flour, add and sauté about a minute on each side. Make sure not to overcook.
- Add the cream, cover the pan and cook for about 4 minutes, turning the scallops once. Watch carefully not to overcook the scallops; if necessary, add more cream and butter. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve on a warm plate, napping the asparagus with sauce. Serves 4 as a main course with 4 scallops, 5 asparagus and 4 morels, or 8 as a first course, with 1 jumbo scallop, 2-3 asparagus and 2 morels.
Mushroom, Ramp & Spinach Tart
The second winning recipe is also by a D.C. resident, a blogger who wishes to be known as Shaw Girl. A vegetarian recipe, it pairs morels with another excellent partner and spring specialty, ramps.
- 1 bunch ramps
- 1 package portobello mushrooms
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled
- 3 cups baby spinach leaves, cleaned,
- 1/4 cup fig-infused vinegar
- 1/4 cup Port
- 2-4 cups Gruyère cheese, grated
(amount depends on your level of
- 9 sheets phyllo dough (take them out of the refrigerator to thaw)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Olive oil to brush phyllo sheets
- Parchment paper
Crisp pastry, meaty portobellos. Photo by Ryan Clark | MarxDFoods.com.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Chop off the ends of the ramps and dice the remaining stalks, including the leaves.
- Chop the mushrooms and set aside.
- Place a little olive oil in a saucepan on medium heat and sauté the ramps, mushrooms and garlic for about five minutes or until the ramps have wilted a bit.
- Add the spinach and continue cooking until it has wilted. Lower the heat and add the vinegar and the Port, cooking until both liquids have reduced. Add salt and pepper to taste and remove the mixture from the heat.
- While the ramp mixture cools, turn to the phyllo dough. Place a large sheet of parchment paper on a clean surface. Carefully place one sheet on the parchment paper and with a light hand, brush it with olive oil. Place a second sheet on top of the oiled sheet (again using a light touch) and brush it with olive oil. Repeat with the third sheet. Place a line of the cheese along one of the long ends of the phyllo dough and spoon some of the ramp mixture on top of the cheese.
- Now it’s time to roll the dough. Fold in the short ends of the dough to about a 1/2 inch and then carefully start rolling the dough lengthwise. Place the tart seam side down on a baking sheet and continue the process for the remaining pieces of phyllo dough (this recipe makes three long tarts).
- Bake the tarts for 10-15 minutes, or until the sheets are golden brown. Allow to cool and then cut each tart into 3 or 4 equal parts, depending on how large you want each serving to be. Makes 9 to 12 portions.
Return to Part I: Morel Overview
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