Too soon for another asparagus recipe? Of course not. Actually this recipe isn’t really about the asparagus, though it is beautiful and works well as an accompaniment to the real star– these gorgeous morel mushrooms. Like asparagus, morels are now in season in Minnesota. These rather odd looking mushrooms tend to grow in moist conditions and are often found around dying or dead Elm, Sycamore, and Ash trees. Old apple orchards are another place to hunt for them. Morels have an unbelievable, almost indescribable flavor. As you’d expect, it’s very earthy, but there’s some other unique complexity there as well. I can’t place it, but it is incredible. The texture is firm and meaty– there’s real substance.
I’ve always wanted to be a mushroom forager, but simply haven’t had the time– yet. From what I can tell, foraging is both a science (separating the poisonous from the edible) and an art (instinct about where and when to hunt.) There’s also mystery and secretiveness. Foragers don’t like to share their hunting grounds. Exciting! Though perhaps this is more a reflection of my entertainment standards than anything else.
My husband surprised me with a small bag of morels this week. He saw some at a Farmer’s Market for a better price than I’d found anywhere else. Here’s the bad news: morels are expensive. Remember that “part science/part art” comment above? There’s a cost for that. Even so, you shouldn’t let the price deter you because you won’t need many to make a dish shine. Their powerful flavor is apparent even in small quantities. For this dish, I borrowed an idea from my friend Matt, who swears that sauteing them in butter is the best way to enjoy morels. That’s what I did here, and it turned out beautifully. This is less a ‘recipe’ and more me just combining three separate ingredients. With morels, keep in simple in order to focus on the flavor of the mushroom.
The Recipe: Morels with Roasted Asparagus and Crispy Fried Eggs
1 bunch thin asparagus (ends trimmed, peeled if necessary)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 pound morel mushrooms
4 tablespoons salted butter
2 free-range eggs
Flour, for coating the mushrooms
salt and freshly cracked pepper
To Prepare the Mushrooms: Cut the mushrooms in half, lengthwise. Place in a bowl of cold water with 2 tablespoons of salt. This will kill any bugs that may be on the mushrooms. Let them sit for a few hours or overnight. Rinse with cold water when ready to use and pat dry. Allow to air dry a bit, if time permits. (Note: People are quite divided on the subject of wiping them off with a damp cloth or submerging into water. Do whatever you want. This worked for me.)
To Roast the Asparagus: Pre-heat oven to 400°F. Place asparagus on a rimmed baking sheet and toss with the olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 10-12 minutes, or until tender.
Meanwhile: In a medium-sized skillet, heat the butter. Lightly coat the mushrooms in the flour. Place into the hot butter and saute for around 2 minutes on each side, depending upon the size of your mushrooms. When finished, remove mushrooms and place on a paper towel.
In the same skillet, using the butter the mushrooms were sauteed in, cook the eggs to your liking. I prefer mine over-easy.
To assemble: Place the roasted asparagus on a plate and put the egg on the top. Then sprinkle with the crispy mushrooms. Finish with salt and pepper, if necessary. Enjoy!
I hope you enjoy the morels as much as I do. For other inspirational ideas, check out my friend, Amy’s blog, “Green Your Plate”. Thanks for stopping by today — have a great weekend!
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