Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Two Days and One Pound of Morel Mushrooms

English: The morel mushroom Morchella esculent...
The Morel in Nature
There is something to be said about being at the right place, at the right time.  My "right place" was driving by the neighbor's house and stopping for a chat as they were unloading from their trip to the valley picking morel mushrooms.

Ahh...to have wonderful neighbors who offer you a pound of hand-picked morel mushrooms just to be neighborly.

For those of you who know very little about morel mushrooms (as did I, but I faked it because they sounded so delicious I just had to try them!), the morel mushroom only grows in a few parts of the nation. It's looks are a bit deceiving.  Lovers of this mushroom suggest it looks like a "honeycomb".  I think it looks like a mushroom with it's brains falling out.

Either way, this mushroom, popular in French cuisine, is hearty, rich, and at about $5-$15/pound, very desirable.  It has a meaty texture, not slimey or slick like some more common species. And if you can get over the "brainy" look of it, you can begin to explore versatility this mushroom has to offer.

Traditional Fried Morel Mushrooms
The first night, I decided to do them up traditional style.

I soaked them in milk, then battered them in flour, salt, pepper, garlic salt, and a little paprika, then fried them in peanut oil. OMG, for the love of mushrooms, they were amazing.  My husband made a little spicy aioli to dip with them, but they didn't need it! They were perfectly savory without!

The second night, I decided to try them with a little pasta.

Morel Mushrooms w/ Spinach, Olive Oil, and Ravioli
I picked up some spinach cheese raviolis at Trader Joe's, boiled them, and then tossed them in a sauce with 1TBSP Olive Oil, 1 Clove of Garlic, 2TBSP of Low Fat Butter Spread, Fresh Spinach, Salt, Pepper, and the Morel Mushrooms. IT WAS FABULOUS! And to boot? The dish was filling, yet vegetarian and only 7 points for 1/3 a package of the raviolis. Bravo, morel mushrooms!

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