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Morel Explosion Pasta By Liberty Munson

I grew up foraging for morel mushrooms in the Midwest. It was an annual springtime tradition for my family. When I moved to the Pacific Northwest, I had given up the tradition because I didn’t realize that they grow out here (we always found them around Oak trees!). One afternoon, leaving work, someone asked if I knew what a mushroom was growing near the back door… OMG! It was a morel. Did they grow here? Yes, in fact, they do… and that started a new tradition where my husband and I every weekend in late May and June foraging for morels, either intentionally or unintentionally while hiking (an

Serves 4people
(or more!) ounces dried morel mushrooms
tbsp olive oil
cup shallots, minced fine
garlic clove, minced fine or pressed
tsp dried thyme or 1½ teaspoons fresh thyme
tbsp butter
cup vegetable/beef/chicken broth or 1 bouillon cube (you will have a richer flavor if you use the cube)
Salt and pepper, to taste 8 ounces pasta of your choice
Parmesan or Grana Padano cheese (optional)
Place dried morels in saucepan with at least 2 cups of water but enough to cover the mushrooms. Heat water with mushrooms to just boiling, then remove from heat. Let mushrooms stand to for at least 15 minutes to rehydrate. Drain water from mushrooms into a liquid measuring cup through a coffee filter to remove any debris (“nature”) that was on the morels and remains in the water. Reserve liquid.
Rinse the morels thoroughly as they will likely have some nature still attached to them.
Heat oil over medium heat, add shallot, and sauté until beginning to soften. Add garlic; cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add rehydrated morels and thyme; cook for 4-5 minutes. Add butter and allow to melt. Slowly, add the reserved mushroom broth and broth/bouillon cube, and stir until broth/cube is incorporated. Cook until reduced by about 2/3, leaving a little liquid and butter slurry along with the mushrooms.
Add a splash of cheese to aid in “tightening” the mixture; the amount may range from a couple tablespoons to a small handful. Stir to blend and then remove from heat. This will be the sauce for you pasta. Salt and pepper as needed.
Meanwhile, cook pasta to al dente based on package instructions, being sure salt the water (this adds flavor to the pasta). Reserve ½ cup pasta water and drain remaining. Toss morel sauce with pasta, adding pasta water as needed to create the desired sauce consistency (you may not need the entire ½ cup). Shave small amount of cheese on top for serving.

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