Thursday, May 03, 2012

Morel and Ramp Pasta - May 1, 2012

I saw the basket of morel mushrooms at the co-op last week and could not resist purchasing a small quantity for a special dinner.  At the co-op, morels are $50 a pound, so when I say "special" and "small quantity," I'm not kidding around.  Learning how to find these things in the wild has just risen to the top of my to-do list.    

The occasion was Nick's return home from a week-long trip to Hong Kong and the Philippines for work.  Such a homecoming called for a fancier than average weeknight meal.  To prepare the pasta, I cleaned and sliced the morels in half length-wise.  I plan to always slice the morels this way in the future because I found about 25 small ants living inside each of two of the hollow mushrooms and a little slug inside a third, none of which I would have known about if I'd decided to cook the mushrooms whole.  Easily removed and a clear sign of organic, foraged fungi, I didn't let the bugs bother me too much after my first initial gasp of surprise. 

I diced the bulbs and stems of a small bunch of ramps I'd been keeping in the refrigerator, reserving the green leaves to add later.  I sauteed the ramp bulbs in a generous pat of butter over medium heat for about five minutes and then added my morels with a pinch of salt.  This mix cooked happily for another five minutes or so, and then I added a splash of cream and some freshly ground pepper.  While this simmered gently, I grated in some fresh Pecorino-Romano and then added my partially cooked pasta right into the pan, along with some of the pasta water to help make a light sauce.  Right at the end I added the chopped ramp greens.

The end result was light and creamy, with balanced flavors of rich and earthy morels and bright, acidic ramps.  A reflexion of time and place, this meal is one way to define home. 

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1 comment:

Jaime said...

Looks delicious! I had to fly home to Wisconsin last week for a family funeral and was treated to some morels my dad found for me, along with grilled venison steak and veggies from their garden (via the freezer, of course). It was amazing! I remember eating meals like that when I was a kid and my mom would tell me that what I was eating was considered a "delicacy" and I was very lucky. I didn't understand then, but I do now!


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