Weather in this country is haywire! I live in Southern California where it doesn’t get above 75 degrees until late September and Brooklyn is getting scorched with 90 degrees in early June! How else do you explain asparagus and local morels in early June in the Santa Monica farmers markets? It is truly bizarre but I suppose with this bounty I really should not complain. Instead, eat it and enjoy.
So that is what I did. I ate a whole 1/3 of a pound of fried morels all by my lonesome self. Talk about decadence! Of course they were scandalously delicious. And since they are the sort of wild-foraged product that is here today gone tomorrow, you may as well overindulge while you can!
Asparagus Risotto with Pan Fried Morel Mushrooms
10 thin asparagus, tops cu in 1/2 inch pieces and tough bottoms cut off and reserved
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 onion (1 cup) onion, minced
1/2 cup arborio rice
8 cups water
1/4 cup white wine
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup pecorino romano cheese, grated fine
1/3 lb fresh morel mushrooms
1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup safflower or sunflower oil
Place tough stems of asparagus in 2 quarts (8 cups) water and bring to boil; reduce heat and cook over low for 20 minutes, keep on simmer. Soak morels in bowl water to help rinse out any dirt. Drain and pat dry. Slice in half and dredge all but two in flour with pinch of salt, pepper and mild paprika. Set aside until risotto is almost cooked. Chop the two unfloured mushrooms and reserve.
In a large skillet or saute pan heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add onion and garlic and cook 2-3 minutes until translucent. Add rice and stirring constantly cook until rice begins to look translucent, 3-4 minutes. Check clock to know time and add 1/2 cup of stock and stirring continuously cook until all water is absorbed and rice just begins to stick to the pan. Add the white wine if using and cook until it is absorbed. Continuing adding 1/2 cup stock and stirring constantly for next 20 minutes. Taste rice for doneness – it will probably still be slightly al dente, so add asparagus and chopped morels along with next 1/2 cup of stock and continuing stirring and cooking. Continue to add stock until rice is tender.
In separate frying pan heat 1/3 cup sunflower oil over medium high heat for 2 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook until crisp, about 2 minutes per side. Remove from pan to drain on paper towels and salt well. Add grated cheese to risotto and mix in well. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with fried morels and serve.
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