Just the other day I was lamenting the lack of unique offerings at my Farmers’ Market; I actually scoffed at the idea that it was the best market in Los Angeles. My derision was based on the fact that they haven’t had ramps or morels and according to my barometer (developed in Minnesota) I hadn’t seen either of these items, which for me, are the true heralds of Spring. Of course the universe has a perverse sense of humor. I went to the market yesterday looking for squash blossoms and instead I found morels and ramps, at the same stall!
Morels are the best fresh American mushroom you can find, at least to my mind. I first had them when I lived in Indiana and someone took me foraging for them in the woods. We fried up a our bounty, lightly dusted with flour, salt and cayenne and they were amazing!
I love how morels look, like gnome caps or rubbery brains.
I knew I couldn’t just wing it with the morels because 1) they’re expensive ($18 for a HALF pound) and 2) They are a delicacy and I didn’t want to ruin them since their window of availability can be only a couple of weeks in the parts of the country were they’re prevalent, so heaven knows how long they’ll last here in a climate that they are not expected to grow well.
I found a recipe here, and actually followed it to protect my investment and make sure they were as delicious as I remember them; they were!
I’ll be sending this over to Presto Pasta Nights, being hosted by its founder, Ruth, who writes at Once Upon a Feast – Every Kitchen Tells its Stories. Stop by on Friday to get a gander at all of the great dishes or send her your submission: ruth (at) 4everykitchen (dot) com.
Rotini with Morels and Ramps in Cream Sauce
1/2 lb rotini or similar pasta
1/4 lb morels
12-15 ramps, cleaned and white parts only chopped
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon parsley, minced
1/2 cup cream or half and half
2 tablespoons grated parmesan or romano cheese
Soak morels in a bowl of salted water, drain and repeat several times until water no longer has dirt at the bottom. Drain and dry in dish cloth; cut each in half (cut really large ones in quarters). Saute morels in butter over medium heat until they begin to release their juices. Add ramps and allow to cook over medium heat until ramps begin to turn translucent; add parsley and stir well. Begin cooking pasta just before adding cream to morels. Add cream or half and half to mushrooms and allow cream to boil up so as to reduce and thicken it. Once pasta is cooked, drain and toss with morel mixture and stir in cheese. Season liberally with salt and pepper and serve.
P.S. Check out this post at Hunter Angler Gardener Cook for more about morels and ramps!