With Spring Comes Morels
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Fresh morel mushrooms are starting to pop up in grocery stores, just in time for spring. Deeply earthy and delicately flavored, morels have an innate savory mushroominess and an incredible meaty texture, thanks to its sponge-like appearance. Sadly, morels aren't cheap to buy, but a little goes a long way.
Eating healthy should still be delicious.
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I stopped by our local Whole Foods in search of these woodland fungi, and though they usually appear around the first few weeks of April, with this year's heat wave, I think I might have missed them. So I got the next best thing — dried morels. Although a little disappointed, I wasn't too sad because the dried variety actually have 2 things going for them that the fresh don't: more concentrated flavor and a long shelf life.
Armed with my pricey purchase in hand, I went home and whipped up a savory omelet for dinner. And because the morel has a delicate flavor, it pairs exceptionally well with the equally delicate egg.
Morel Omelet with Garlic and Tarragon
This is a tasty breakfast or dinner for one. Simply double (or quadruple!) the amounts if cooking for more. I use the soaking liquid from the mushrooms to give the eggs extra depth.
3 large dried morel mushrooms
1 cup boiling water
1 1/2 teaspoons butter
1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 large egg
1 large egg white
2 teaspoons canola oil
1. Place mushrooms in a small bowl. Pour water over mushrooms. Let stand 10 minutes; drain, reserving 3 tablespoons soaking liquid. Slice mushrooms lengthwise into 1/4-inch strips.
2. Melt butter in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic to pan; cook 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add mushrooms and 1/8 teaspoon salt to pan; cook 2 minutes or until done. Remove mushroom mixture from pan. Wipe pan clean with a paper towel.
3. Whisk together reserved soaking liquid, tarragon, and next 4 ingredients (through egg white). Return pan to medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add egg mixture to pan, spreading evenly. Cook egg mixture until edges begin to set (about 1 minute). Slide front edge of spatula between edge of omelet and pan. Gently lift edge of omelet, tilting pan to allow any uncooked egg mixture to come in contact with pan. Repeat procedure on opposite edge of omelet. Continue cooking until center is just set (about 2 minutes). Return mushroom mixture to pan, placing it over one half of omelet. Loosen omelet with a spatula, and fold in half. Carefully slide omelet onto a plate. Serve immediately.
CALORIES 244; FAT 20.2g (sat 5.9g, mono 9.3g, poly 3.6g); PROTEIN 11.8g; CARB 4.5g; FIBER 0.5g; CHOL 227mg; IRON 1.3mg; SODIUM 465mg; CALC 54mg
Go Mad for Mushrooms: 4 Morel Recipes for Spring
Spring is when morel season begins, which means we are looking for ways to eat these delightful mushrooms at every meal.
In Italian, there is a wonderful word: scorpacciata, which means eating large amounts of a particular thing in season. Think of tomatoes at the end of the summer—there are too many to eat, which is why everyone preserves them.
So it is with wild mushrooms. When they first come into season, the chefs scramble to be the first with morels on the menu. Since we only have them a few months in spring, morels are devoured with eagerness and excitement. Suddenly, morels are everywhere!
For a limited time, morel mushrooms are available at dartagnan.com. Now you can join in the morel madness at home.
And here are four morel recipes that are worth trying with your mushrooms this spring.
Some Morel Mushrooms Recipes
RAGOUT OF WILD MORELS AND RAMPS WITH RICOTTA GNUDI.
(Courtesy of Chef Steve Santoro of Local Seasonal Kitchen, 41 W Main St, Ramsey 201-962-9400 localsk.com).
1/4 cup newly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg.
Incorporate ricotta, grated Parmigiano and egg with nutmeg. Usage a spatula to fold together.
Sprinkle flour over ricotta. Fold flour inward, scraping disadvantage of bowl as you go.
When all flour is absorbed, use hands to make dough into ball. Dough should be a little ugly but not wet sticky. Let dough rest 15 minutes covered.
Utilizing a small scoop, scoop a part of the mixture, slightly smaller than a pingpong ball. Roll dough delicately between hands to make a smooth ball. , if essential usage a little flour to keep your hands and the dough ball from sticking and have a smooth structure.
Total rolling all dough, putting balls on a floured sheet tray. Cover with plastic wrap and area in refrigerator. These can be made 8 hours ahead of time.
How to Cook with Dried Morels
Nothing makes me more excited for spring than the prospect of picking a pile of morels. Once things start to green up, my thoughts become more and more occupied by the promise of the earthy aromatic. If you’re fortunate enough to have a big harvest this season, take what you don’t immediately eat or gift away and dry the rest.
Drying is a great way to preserve the integrity and flavor of the freshly foraged for year-round opportunities to up your umami game. Morels are awesome dried, but don’t stop there—try drying chanterelles, boletes, and other edible mushrooms available this spring.
Fresh is undoubtedly best, but when you’re eating morels in the middle of winter, it’s difficult to find anything worth complaining about. A lengthy hot water soak, albeit effective, isn’t the only option for reconstitution. Here are five methods to make the most out of your dried fungi.
This works best with whole or large pieces. Start by soaking dried morels in milk for about 20 minutes or until pliable. While your mushrooms are soaking, heat up a cast iron skillet on medium-high with a glug of oil to coat the pan. I like avocado or safflower oil but anything with a high smoke point will do.
Remove mushrooms from milk and dredge in all-purpose flour—just enough to lightly coat them—then place directly in hot oil. It should spit and hiss a little (if it doesn’t then heat the oil longer). Be sure to not crowd your pan only fry one layer at a time.
Cook for a couple minutes on one side until the mushrooms are brown and crispy, then flip. Season with salt and pepper and add a couple pats of butter to the pan. Turn down the heat and make sure every mushroom gets equally basted, using a spoon to distribute butter as needed.
Eat them right out of the pan or serve on a perfectly cooked steak. Regardless of how you decide to consume, dried morels can taste pretty darn close to fresh ones after frying.
If you are cooking something like venison stew, soup, or Bolognese or anything that requires simmering for a while, don’t worry about a pre-cook soak. They will rehydrate in the cooking liquid. While whole mushrooms provide awesome texture and visual appeal, this can also be a great use for the bottom-of-the-jar pieces.
Once you reach the point in your recipe where it’s time to simmer, throw in the morels, give it a stir, put on a lid, and be sure to give at least 10 minutes for the mushrooms to plump up. Allowing them to rehydrate in the sauce will make for a super flavorful dish.
Caramelized with Onions
This simple but flavor-packed accoutrement is extremely versatile and works best with small pieces or chopped up whole mushrooms. Slice a couple of yellow onions and begin the caramelization process in a pan on low heat with a pat of butter, pinch of salt, and a few red chili flakes. Stir occasionally to prevent burning.
Add mushroom pieces when the onions begin to turn translucent. Once onions are browning and sticking to bottom and sides of pan, about 20 minutes later, deglaze with wine, water, or stock, and cook until au sec. At this point, the onions and mushrooms should be completely caramelized and have a slightly sweet but ultimately savory profile.
It is important to consider that varying mushroom and deglazing liquid combinations will yield different results. Stock will add meatier notes, wine or sherry contribute some punch, and water will simply allow the caramelized flavors to shine.
Morels deglazed with red wine can make an out-of-this-world burger topping. Naturally sweet chantarelles pair nicely with a white wine deglaze, which goes great with smoked gouda to make a fancy grilled cheese.
Boiled In Pho or Ramen Broth
Before adding noodles to pho or ramen broth, allow about 5 minutes for a handful of mushrooms to rehydrate in the lightly boiling liquid. They will need to cook longer with added noodles.
If you harvested big mushrooms like boletes (also called porcinis), which tend to become dusty and crumbled in the bottom of the jar, they work great for pho or ramen. Whole mushrooms aren’t totally necessary because this technique is more about flavoring the broth with rich umami notes. If you do opt for whole or larger pieces, just be sure to accommodate with more cooking time.
After the mushrooms have had a few minutes to simmer, drop in your noodles. Add remaining ingredients like Thai basil, bean sprouts, cilantro, shredded shank, or thin-sliced raw backstrap to cook in the steaming broth.
Top a Pizza
This requires soaking the mushrooms. Try out this method: Give your French press a good clean, then put in the morels with some hot water just like you would make a pot of coffee.
After a 15- to 20-minute soak (or until pliable), press down, but try to not completely squish the mushrooms. Pour out the liquid but save it. It can be frozen in ice cube trays for later use in place of water while cooking grains, soups, or deglazing liquid for a pan sauce.
If you’re working with whole morels, slice lengthwise and put on a pizza with your favorite toppings or as an addition to this squirrel bacon pizza recipe. I like olive oil and garlic as a base topped with duck prosciutto, mozzarella, and fresh basil, finished with a drizzle of syrupy balsamic vinegar right when it comes out of the oven. Each bite will taste like spring, no matter what season it actually is.
Morel Mushroom Recipe Ideas to Inspire Your Spring SpreadPhoto(s) by Brian Confer
Morel mushroom hunting is a sure sign of spring in Northern Michigan. View some of our favorite recipes that allow the flavor of your freshly foraged morels to shine through!
Whether you just finished morel hunting in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore or simply visited your secret morel hunting spot in Northern Michigan, we’re ready to help you make the most of your fresh-picked foraged finds. View some of our favorite morel recipes that will make your tastebuds come alive through breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Appetizer, Brunch & Lunch Morel Recipies
Puree of Asparagus Soup with Morels
This vibrant and delicious soup highlights everything we love about spring. It is simple, easy to create, features morels and can be served both chilled or hot.
View the Asparagus Soup with Morels Recipe
Morel, Potato & Herb Flatbread
Served as an appetizer or meal, this flatbread is a great addition to any spread. Whether you’re looking to wow the crowd at a spring get-together or you’re dining in while celebrating your freshly foraged morels, this recipe is sure to please.
View the Morel, Potato & Herb Flatbread Recipe
Northwoods Quiche with Morels
Developed by Northwoods, this tasty quiche is perfect for breakfast or brunch! If you’re looking to add more than foraged morels, you can also hunt down some ramps (wild leeks) to replace the normal leeks in this recipe.
View the Quiche with Morels Recipe
Foraging for more than just morels? Learn how you can build a foraged feast with morels, ramps and other Northern Michigan spring finds.
Our Favorite Morel Mushroom Dinner Recipes
Grilled Morel Pizza
Regular cheese pizza is so last season. Check out this delicious twist on pizza for one of our favorite ways to eat morels. Cheesy, grilled and delicious, this pizza is sure to please.
View the Grilled Morel Pizza Recipe
Wild Leek & Morel Mushroom Pasta
Featuring fresh morels and leeks, this pasta is sure to please! This simple recipe can be created with items already in your pantry and fridge and highlight the fresh taste of your foraged finds.
View the Wild Leek & Morel Mushroom Pasta Recipe
Jolly Pumpkin Dried Morel Mac & Cheese
Even though it won a people’s choice award more than a decade ago, this is still one of our go-to recipes for a perfect spring mac and cheese! Timeless, delicious and featuring dried morels, this cheesy dish is sure to be the highlight of your day.
View the Morel Mac & Cheese Recipe
Warm Asparagus and Morel Salad with Black Truffle Vinaigrette
If you’re looking for a lighter spring dish, this one is for you! The combination of asparagus and morels is one of our favorite and the addition of the black truffle vinaigrette only makes it that much better. Enjoy this dish outdoors on your new patio set that has been hiding away since winter.
View the Warm Asparagus & Morel Salad Recipe
Rib-Eye Steaks with Red Zin-Morel Sauce
Calling all sauce lovers, if you’re looking to craft a slightly more upscale dinner this rib-eye with a delicious red zin-morel sauce is a perfect choice! Grab your favorite bottle of red zinfandel and get ready to enjoy.
View the Steak & Red-Zin Morel Sauce Recipe
Morel, Leek & Cashew Risotto
This delicious recipe comes from the Grow Benzie cookbook, Seasonal Harvest Recipes. Self-foraged leeks and morels make this dish irresistible, while the cashews, lemon and thyme are all the wonderfully delicious cherry on top.
View the Morel, Leek & Cashew Risotto Recipe
A simple recipe with ramps and morels to celebrate spring
If you’re someone who struggles with what to make for dinner every night, then using seasonal fruits and vegetables as your guide may change the way you think about cooking. If you really want to get in tune with nature, then foraging is a great way to take advantage of edible wild food that grows naturally around us. For example, blow your kids’ minds when you turn lemonade pink by using violets. Or, you can put your foraging and cooking skills to the test with this ramp and mushroom sauté recipe to create the ultimate spring dish.
Not familiar with ramps? Ramps are edible leafy green plants that carry a garlicky-onion aroma. For this reason, ramps are also known as wild leeks and can be found growing out of the ground in hardwood forests. If you happen to come across them, act fast as they are only around for a short period, from late April to early June. Be mindful of sustainable foraging practices and be sure to leave some ramps behind so they can continue to propogate. You may also find ramps at your local farmer’s markets if you’re lucky enough. These delicate greens are not only tasty but packed with vitamin A and C, so make it the spotlight of your daily meals.
When it comes to mushrooms, any variety would work well in this simple recipe. Oyster mushrooms are fabulous, though if you want to go all out on the wild spring produce theme, then morels are the mushroom to get — if you can find some. But please leave this task to your farmers or expert foragers as mushroom foraging can be quite dangerous if you aren't extremely well-versed in the difference between safe and poisonous mushroom varieties.
This easy sauté is the perfect dish for a busy weeknight because it only requires two main ingredients to make. All you need is a handful of ramps and mushrooms, plus pantry staples of olive oil, salt and pepper. Slice your vegetables into the desired size, place them in a sauté pan and cook until practically caramelized. Then it’s ready to eat.
This ramp and mushroom sauté recipe is delicious to accompany your favorite chicken recipe or alongside grilled salmon. It also goes great with eggs, either with scrambled eggs or in an omelet. This recipe also tastes amazing on its own and would make an absolutely perfect vegetarian dish that is cheap and easy to make.
Ramp and Mushroom Sauté
Recipe by Annette Nielsen
10-12 ramps, root end trimmed and cleaned (use all parts – root bulb, stem and leaves, or use leaves as garnish)
1 1/2 pound pounds mushrooms, washed, woody ends discarded if necessary
Freshly ground pepper and coarse or sea salt, to taste
Step 1: Slice the ramps and mushrooms into 1 1/2-inch pieces.
Step 2: In a sauté pan, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat.
Step 3: Add the vegetables and toss frequently until they begin to caramelize. After 7 or 8 minutes, when they are just tender, place on a serving dish and let them stand for a few minutes before serving (they will continue to cook slightly before they begin to cool).
Not just a clever name, this savory tart combines three alliums (scallions, garlic, and onion) for maximum flavor and crispy-jammy texture. The key to the flaky crust is to move fast! Rolling and folding the dough while the butter is still cold creates distinct layers of butter and flour that will steam apart during baking, making the crust light and flaky.
You’ll find all the flavors of Middle Eastern shish barak (tiny lamb and pine nut) dumplings here, but made simpler and brighter with help from dried pasta and plenty of fresh dill.
Rabbit with spring vegetables and morel mushrooms
This recipe for rabbit with spring vegetables and morel mushrooms comes from Brasserie Gustave. The dish can be prepped ahead, making it a great option for entertaining. Morels are in season throughout the spring months, but you can also buy them dried.
Published: March 26, 2015 at 12:22 pm
- olive oil 100ml
- rabbit 1 large, and keeping the liver and kidney)
- onion 1 large, quartered
- garlic 2 cloves
- leek 1, cut lengthwise
- thyme or rosemary 1 sprig of each
- bay leaf 1
- morel mushrooms 60g fresh, rehydrate in warm water)
- white wine 300ml
- double cream 500ml
- chicken stock 1 litre
- baby carrots 8, trimmed and scrubbed
- baby leeks 8, trimmed
- cooked pasta to serve
- cooked broccoli to serve
Heat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Heat the oil in a large ovenproof pan. Season the rabbit well, then fry the rabbit pieces, one or two pieces at a time, in the hot oil until golden brown, then remove. (Leave the liver and kidneys aside if you have them.)
What are the best growing conditions for morels?
Timing and proper conditions are everything when it comes to finding morels. Ask anyone who is a seasoned hunter and they will tell you that the two most important aspects of the season to consider are temperature and moisture.
Ideally you want to wait until the spring temperatures have consistently reached 50 degrees. Now don’t think that just because you have one 50-degree day that the mushrooms wills start popping. Preferably it stays 50 or above throughout the day and night for several days in a row. This will also bring the soil temperature up to 50 and make growing conditions more ideal.
Along with the right air and soil temperature, you also need consistent moisture. Morels need wet conditions to grow, but not too wet. Snowy winters and wet, rainy springs are the most ideal for mushroom growth. A couple of rainy nights coupled with 50 or above temps are sure to get the growth going. While morels like moist conditions from spring rain showers they don’t like to sit in water. So, steer clear of areas where water is standing or unable to drain well.
Other conditions that add to the growth rate of morels is in fields or forests where there have been recent wildfire burns or clear cuts have been made in trees. Dug up or disturbed soil can also be grounds for a morel boom.
Hen-of-the-woods mushrooms are prolific in Northeastern regions of the U.S. In Japan, where they are very popular, they are called maitake. Unlike other mushrooms that have a squishy texture, these light and feathery specimens might even win over mushroom-haters. Their hearty flavor is best showcased in simple preparations like risotto and egg dishes. Try hen-of-the-woods mushrooms in this recipe for Eggs Florentine.
You&aposll find many tips for choosing, cooking and storing mushrooms, but when it comes to wild mushrooms, read on: