Last Saturday at the Penticton Farmers’ Market, apart from all the other fabulous and fresh local produce, there were morel mushrooms. Having missed the previous weeks’ offering, they sell our very quickly, I made sure I picked up a pound. A pound! That is a powerful amount of mushrooms however, the season is so short one must over indulge while one can. Asparagus are still in season so what better combination to serve than morels and asparagus?
Morels can generally be found in forested ares that have suffered forest fires. Here in the Okanagan it should be fairly easy to find morels but it isn’t. Morel hunters are a secretive lot and if they do tell you where to find that secret cache – they will then have to kill you to preserve that secret. It is best not to ask.
Pasta with Morels and Asparagus
Morels have to be cleaned first. There are many suggested ways to clean morels. Some have you soaking the mushrooms overnight. If you want a morel sponge filled with water this is an excellent method. Fortunately my purchased morels were clean and I needed only to gently brush the stems of any residual soil.
1/4 pound fresh morels
1/2 pound thin asparagus
1/4 cup unsalted cold butter
4 teaspoons minced shallots
1/2 cup Ver Jus
1/2 cup stock or water
1 cup of heavy cream (get over it)
8 ounces fresh fettucine or 6 ounces dried
1. Cut morels to the size and shape you like; Cut asparagus into one inch pieces, discarding the tough bases.
2. In a medium size saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon of butter, add shallots and cook for 2 minutes or until softened. Add Ver Jus and bring to a boil, stirring. Add stock or water, morels, salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and simmer until liquid is reduced to about 3/4 cup. Stir in cream and bring mixture once again to a boil. Simmer, stirring occasionally, over medium heat for about 7 minutes.
3. Cook pasta as you like it. 2 minutes prior to the pasta being cooked to perfection, add the asparagus to the pasta water (this saves using yet another saucepan just for steaming the asparagus); drain pasta and asparagus and transfer to serving bowl. Add remaining two tablespoons of cold butter to the sauce and stir over low heat just until blended. Taste and adjust seasoning.
4. To serve, toss pasta with sauce and enjoy.