For our morels this week, I was going for simplicity from the outset; I would dust salty flour on them and cook them in a pan with some butter. I just knew you’d love that for how easy it would be and love me for how little you’d have to scroll down past a ton of words to ultimately cook something delicious. Besides, of the many morel recipes I’ve come across by now, a simple pan-fry was the most enticing.
Then it seemed like the whole of my family, all starved because of course there had been nothing to eat all day, came wandering into the kitchen at the very moment I was taking morel pictures (mostly of lilacs) and making my simple, rather small pan of black morels (hey, they’re expensive…).
A change of plan—that is, making dinner—was in order, especially after we all tasted the little bits of fried morels, said yummy, yawned a little, and then wondered what else we could eat besides a mountain of chips and salsa. I was wishing we had a big plate of kibbeh to go with our morels, which one of my readers, Sam, said he is having this weekend.
Sometimes the stars, or at least the pantry, align and you have the ingredients you need to make something incredibly delicious, unexpectedly. I had a small bag of yellow morels left, some cream (my good, if naughty, friend), garlic, and chives from the garden. Airplanes needed to be caught, and drives downstate needed to be driven, so we rushed through the cooking and eating so fast that nary a photo was taken of the morel scene, not even the empty plates.
The discussion as we ate was about how very, how truly wonderful the pasta was. How restaurant-quality. And why that was so. Chris is not a mushroom fan, so he attributed the wow factor to every ingredient but the morels. Peg thought the rotini we used was the perfect pasta because the sauce could cling so well to it. Little John said his was the best pasta ever, but then his had butter only (we did salt the pasta cooking water, which really does make a difference). I started talking about umami, and it was as though I was invisible. Except to my mother, who responded thinking I’d called out her name. But oh how umami this dish was; savory, meaty morel umami that makes my mouth water at the thought.
I know it’s tough to trust anymore without a gorgey photo to amplify whatever it is we’re selling, be it on match.com (owie) or Pinterest or a homemade blog. If morels were like asparagus or Swiss chard or lentils, I’d just go pick up some more from Toski Sands or the IGA and turn out that pasta again, quietly and slowly in a sane and reclaimed kitchen with no famished onlookers. But here we are, morel-less and photo-less, and I’m asking you to trust me that if you make this dish, it won’t matter what it looked like over here, because it’s going to be perfect on your own plate. Then gone faster than you can smile and say “cheese.”
Pasta with Morels, Garlic & Cream
This dish came off with little planning or measuring. You can cook that way too, adjusting the amounts depending on how many people and how many mushrooms are coming to dinner, and tasting as you go to see what’s needed.
2 cups or so morels, or any mushroom you have, cleaned
Pasta of any sort
2 tablespoons butter
2 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon white wine (optional)
Few snips of chive
¾ cup heavy whipping cream, plus more
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
Put a large pot of hot water on to boil. Once it boils, add a tablespoon of salt. Then the pasta. The box on my shelf with the most pasta in it was rotini, so I used that one, and it was good. Cook to al dente.
Meanwhile, chop the morels in ½ -inch pieces. Mince two cloves of garlic (remove the green germ inside first). Chop a few chives (I like to use scissors for this).
Melt a pat of butter in a sauté pan over medium low heat. Add the morels and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring, for at least five minutes, until they release juices.
Add the garlic and chives and cook for just a minute while the garlic blooms its essence. Add a splash of white wine if you have it and turn up the heat, cooking the wine off for just a minute and scraping the bottom of the pan. Pour in some heavy cream. Simmer, reducing the cream for two or three minutes.
Taste. Season with salt and pepper.
Drain the pasta, then add the pasta to the sauté pan with the sauce. Cook the pasta with the sauce over medium low heat, adding a touch more cream if needed, for about two minutes. Shower with grated parmesan, stirring it all together over the heat.
Eat up immediately in warm bowls, with another shower of parmesan over top.
O happy day. O happy spring.
Print this recipe here.