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Fresh flavors come with the return of spring

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Morel and Asparagus Pasta

5 fresh or dried morel mushrooms

1 lb. Spaghettini or angel-hair pasta

1/4 cup olive oil

3 tbsp. unsalted butter

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 medium shallots, finely chopped

1 bunch asparagus (about 1 pound), cut into 1-inch pieces

3/4 cup chicken stock

1/2 cup heavy cream

Juice and zest of 1 lemon

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

enough grated parmesan and pecorino cheese to equal

1/4 cup, plus more for serving

If using dried morels, rehydrate by placing in a bowl with 8 cups boiling water. Set aside until morels are tender, about 30 minutes. Slice in half lengthwise. Set aside.

Fill a large pot with enough salty water to cook pasta and bring to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente, about 13 minutes, or according to manufacturer’s directions. Drain in colander and set aside.

Heat oil and butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and shallots; cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about
4 minutes. Add morels, asparagus, and stock and bring to a boil. Cook, covered, until asparagus is tender, about 3 minutes. Uncover, stir in cream, and continue to cook until slightly reduced, about 3 minutes.

Remove from heat and add pasta, lemon juice, lemon zest, and cheese. Toss until evenly combined. Season with salt and pepper. To serve, sprinkle with more cheese.

Adapted from “Morel and Asparagus Spaghetti” by Leah Koenig, Food52

Updated: May 4, 2013 6:08AM



Soon, the cold soil will crack and soften to bring the first signs of greenery. Soon, the sun will be warm enough to dissolve the last briskness in the morning air. And when the song sparrow begins to sing the rites of spring, their soft serenade returns us to the memory of spring’s most delectable edibles that will pop up so very soon.

It will all happen soon.

Although the ground is still frozen, cabin fever has us aching for the fresh flavors of spring to rear their pretty little heads; but April has very little to offer. However, what it does offer are some of the strongest, most delicious flavors of the season. Wild asparagus and morels fit into a fleeting time slot in early spring making them desirable for not only their flavor, but their rarity, too. A bit of extra novelty gets stirred in with the fact that both of these spring edibles must be foraged.

Avid foragers might begin looking for wild asparagus in wet Indiana lowlands in early April, or as soon as the thawed ground rises above 50 degrees. For morel hunters, it may be a little later. But when the ache to sample spring’s first gleanings gets too great, the hunts begin now.

Perhaps it’s the pining for fresh spring vegetables, or it could even be the cabin fever; whatever it is, though, has foodies yearning for a sample of spring’s offering. Just a taste won’t cut it. The craving is there and it must be satisfied.

Asparagus and morel mushrooms—why not entwine them together? This pasta dish stars both spring ingredients equally, neither one overpowering the other with its intense flavor. Although both the morels and asparagus have their own tasty idiosyncrasies—the morels with their robust earthiness, the wild asparagus with a piquant flavor of fresh greens—each melds together with the mildness of a lemon Parmesan pasta.

While forest-foraged morels and wild asparagus are always preferred, sometimes the weather and temperature does not cooperate. This recipe needs neither to operate as a delicious spring meal. Dried morels, rehydrated, and bunched asparagus will act as meaningful substitutes. The only thing missing is the slight adventure of foraging.



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