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Sautéed Asparagus with Morels

Sautéed Asparagus with Morels


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Celebrate spring with this easy side dish of sautéed asparagus, wild morel mushrooms, and green garlic. Delicious!

Photography Credit:Elise Bauer

A spring trifecta—Morels, asparagus, and green garlic

This week I picked up some morels at the market and decided to sauté them with some asparagus and green garlic in a little olive oil and butter.

So good! Like seriously good. My sweetheart took one tentative bite and then devoured the rest. I’ve made it 3 times already this week.

Morel Mushrooms

Have you ever cooked with or foraged for morel mushrooms?

Morels are exquisite spring mushrooms with an unusual and distinctive honeycomb appearance.

In the mushroom foraging world, morels are considered a good “beginner” mushroom because they are so easy to identify.

Morels pop up in old orchards and sometimes in freshly laid garden mulch (I often find morels in our former-orchard yard).

But usually the ones available in the stores here are foraged by professional mushroom hunters who find them in the mountains and foothills in the spring, after an autumn fire.

Morel Mushrooms

Because of all those nooks and crannies, morels can tend to hold onto some grit. So to cook with them, you’ll want to soak them in water first, and drain and re-soak them several times.

Then you just slice them and cook them like any mushroom; they’re delicious!

If fresh morels aren’t available, you can also use dry morels, you’ll just need to soak them in water for several hours to rehydrate.

Green Garlic

Regarding the green garlic, I’ve seen versions with shallots, but since green garlic is available in the market, I went with that for this recipe.

You could use shallots, spring onions, green onions, or leeks if green garlic isn’t available where you are. But if you are finding fresh morels at your market, you can likely find green garlic too!

Green Garlic

Green garlic tastes like garlic scented green onions, very mild, not at all as strong or overpowering as mature garlic.

We like this dish just served on its own for a simple lunch, but it would make a great side dish for chicken or beef. Enjoy!

Sautéed Asparagus with Morels Recipe

This recipe uses fresh morels, but you could easily use dried morels. Use about 1 ounce. Let them soak in water 6 hours or overnight.

Green garlic or spring garlic is immature garlic that is available in the spring. There is no papery cover. You use and slice the green garlic the same way you would a green onion.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 pound fresh morel mushrooms
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1-2 green garlics, sliced (white and purple bulb, and light green stalk), (can sub shallots)
  • 1 teaspoon herbs de Provence (can use dry thyme or a combination of thyme and dry tarragon)
  • 1 pound of asparagus, trimmed (choose asparagus on the thin side)
  • Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Method

1 Prepare the morels: Slice the morel mushrooms in half lengthwise. Place in a bowl and cover with water. Agitate the water to release grit or dirt from the mushrooms. Drain. Repeat. Then fill with water and let sit while you prep the other ingredients.

2 Boil the asparagus: Fill the bottom of a large skillet with about 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch of water. Add a quarter teaspoon of salt. Add one slice of the prepped green garlic. Bring to a boil.

Add the asparagus in an even layer. Cook until barely cooked (still firm, but can easily poke with a fork), about 3 minutes. (See How to Boil Asparagus.)

Remove to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking.

3 Drain and slice the morels: Drain and rinse the morels one more time. Then slice them crosswise into 1/4-inch slices.

4 Sauté green garlic and morels: Heat olive oil and melt butter in a large skillet (I use a 10-inch cast iron pan) on medium high heat. Add the sliced green garlic and the sliced morels.

Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon Herbes de Provence.

Cook on medium high heat until the mushrooms start releasing their water, about 3 to 5 minutes.

5 Add the asparagus: While the mushrooms are cooking, cut the asparagus in 1-inch diagonal segments.

Add the asparagus to the mushroom green garlic mixture. Sprinkle with black pepper, toss to combine.

Add more salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

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How to Cook Morel Mushrooms

Once your morels are sufficiently cleaned (thoroughly rinsed in cold water then briefly soaked in lightly salted water), you&aposre ready to start cooking.

Fry Morels

Seemingly the most popular way to cook morel mushrooms is by frying. Here&aposs how to fry morels to enjoy right out of the pan or added to burgers and other dishes you&aposd add your usual fried mushrooms to.

  • Preheat the skillet over medium heat and melt a good chunk of butter. The amount you&aposll need depends on how many mushrooms you&aposre cooking. You can always add more butter as you cook, if needed.
  • Prep your coating or breading. Some folks swear by just a bit of flour, others seasoned bread crumbs. I&aposm a fan of crushed crackers because they&aposre already seasoned (even if just with salt). Crush crackers in a zip-top bag and dump into a bowl.
  • Crack a couple of eggs in a separate bowl and beat well.
  • Coat cleaned morels in egg, then crackers, and pop them in that butter-coated skillet. Sauté about 5 minutes or until golden brown and crispy for pan-fried morels that will have everyone reaching for more.

Sauté Morels

Sautພing is a splendid way to showcase morel mushrooms for pure morel flavor. For best results, cook in a dry skillet for 5 minutes in small batches (only what covers the skillet surface in a single layer), and turn a few times until golden brown and tender. Remove one batch, then replace with the next until you have all of the morels tender. Season as desired

For more flavor, follow directions in this Saut Mushroom Medley and return all the mushrooms back to the skillet and add equal parts butter and oil. Stir in some diced shallots and a dash of bourbon and cook until the liquid has evaporated. Season to taste with salt and pepper.


Untamed Mushrooms book cover

Ingredients

  • 1 pound fresh asparagus spears
  • 8 tablespoons butter, divided
  • ½ pound fresh morel mushrooms, halved if large
  • ½ small red onion, cut into thin slivers
  • coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • ½ teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ cup torn or roughly chopped fresh dill, tarragon, lovage, or chervil, plus some whole leaves

Directions

Snap off the tough bottoms of the asparagus spears. If using large, thick asparagus peel the lower ends with a vegetable peeler. Set aside.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a wide skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and red onion season with salt and pepper. Sauté about 6 minutes or until just tender. Scrape into a bowl.

Melt remaining 6 tablespoons butter in skillet add asparagus in a single layer and season with salt and pepper. Add ½ cup water, cover, and bring to a simmer. Cook about 3 minutes or until the asparagus is firm-tender and still bright green.

Remove asparagus from pan and arrange on a serving platter.

Increase heat to high simmer pan juices briskly about 1 minute or until reduced. Stir in lemon zest and juice. Turn off heat stir in torn herbs. Spoon morels and red onion over the asparagus, along with the pan juices. Scatter a few fresh herb leaves on top.

Kitchen Notes

Save the tough ends of the asparagus if you’re inclined toward chilled spring soups. Simmer them in a good chicken or mushroom broth with some garlic chives or watercress and some chopped new potatoes. Purée the soup, add a splash of cream and some chopped herbs, salt, and pepper, and chill. Serve in small cups with a spoonful of sautéed morels and toasted croutons. This recipe is a good one for playing with fresh herbs: I always like tarragon in the spring, and dill is an easy partner. But if you’ve got a spray of lovage, with its celery-like taste, in your garden or delicate chervil, toss them in.

Reprinted with permission from Untamed Mushrooms: From Field to Table by Michael Karns, Dennis Becker and Lisa Golden Schroeder, published by Minnesota Historical Society Press. untamedmushrooms.com

Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl

Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl was born in New York City little aware of her destiny—to live well in Minnesota. Dara writes about food, people, places, and now and then, things! She has five James Beard awards out of 13 nominations, and has won three CRMAs.


Recipe Summary

  • 1 pound thick asparagus spears
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 6 ounces fresh morel mushrooms*, cleaned, trimmed and halved lengthwise
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Snipped fresh chives
  • Lemon wedges (optional)

Snap off and discard woody bases of asparagus. If desired, scrape off scales. Place a steamer basket in a saucepan. Add water to just below the bottom of the basket. Bring water to boiling. Add asparagus to basket. Cover and reduce heat steam for 3 to 5 minutes or until crisp-tender. Remove basket discard liquid.

Meanwhile, heat 2 Tbsp. of the butter in a large skillet. Add morels and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

In a large bowl toss hot asparagus with remaining 1 Tbsp. butter and lemon juice to coat. Arrange asparagus and morels on a serving platter and sprinkle with chives. If desired, serve with lemon wedges.

If fresh morel mushrooms are not available, substitute 1 1/2 to 2 oz. dried morel mushrooms. Soak dried mushrooms in warm water for 30 minutes. Drain and pat dry.


Preparation

  • Slice the asparagus on a sharp diagonal about 1/2 inch thick, leaving the tips whole. Melt the butter in a large (12-inch) skillet over moderate heat. Add the asparagus and season with the salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the asparagus is just tender, 5 to 6 minutes, lowering the heat if needed to keep the asparagus from browning. Don’t overcook the asparagus will soften a little more as it cools.
  • Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the parsley and 3 tablespoons of the cheese. Transfer to a serving bowl, top with the remaining cheese, and serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

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Cook&rsquos Tips

Asparagus is in season now. This is one of the best sauteed asparagus recipes and here are my tips:

  • Always choose young asparagus. You can tell the difference between young vs. old asparagus from the diameter and width of the stalk. If the stalk are thicker, they are old asparagus. They are not ideal for sauteing, because the stalk are fibrous, tough and woody.
  • Buy organic asparagus if you can as organic asparagus are always younger and more tender.
  • Trim 1-2 inches off the bottom of the stalks before cooking.
  • For young asparagus, you don&rsquot have to peel off the skin. If you have big and fat asparagus, you might want to use a peeler to peel off the skin on the stalk to reveal the white, tender part of the stalks.


Kurt Gutenbrunner’s Recipe for Spaetzle With Asparagus and Morels

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO,Kurt Gutenbrunner introduced his elegant Austrian cooking to New Yorkers at his West Village restaurant Wallsé. From there the chef launched two more Austrian places in the city, and he revamped and reopened his wine bar, Upholstery Store, this past January, adding “Food and Wine” to the name and a menu of small plates and seafood.

“I grew up with classic cuisine—it is the base for my creativity,” the chef said. “This is food you can understand.” Comfort and luxury often converge in his cooking, and this recipe, Mr. Gutenbrunner’s first Slow Food Fast contribution, is no exception: Tiny spaetzle dumplings, a rustic Austrian staple, get a quick sauté with asparagus and morel mushrooms—plus a good glug of cream.

After a lifetime of making spaetzle from scratch, Mr. Gutenbrunner has an intuitive feel for the dough. “It should look like a thick pancake batter,” he said. Pressed through the holes of a colander set over a pot of boiling water, that loose dough naturally forms into dumplings. “Don’t boil too much at a time, or the spaetzle will bring down the water temperature and cook unevenly,” Mr. Gutenbrunner warned.

The morels and asparagus cook just long enough to give up some sweetness, but not so long they lose their bite. The layering of textures as well as flavors is important in this dish and, again, it comes down largely to timing. “I am obsessive,” Mr. Gutenbrunner admitted. “It actually drives people near me crazy.” His customers aren’t complaining.

Spaetzle With Asparagus and Morels

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Step-by-step instructions

Step 1: Prepare the asparagus. Snap the bottom 1-2 inches off of the asparagus and discard them. Drizzle the trimmed asparagus with some oil and season with some salt and pepper.

Step 2: Cook in the skillet. Heat a skillet over medium heat with the remaining oil. Place the asparagus spears in a single layer in the skillet and add the lid on top to steam. Add the lemon juice after a couple minutes, place the lid back on, and cook until fork tender.

Step 3: Remove and serve. Remove the asparagus from the heat and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Serve while hot with your favorite main dishes and sides.


Sautéed Asparagus with Shallot + Lemon

We are really big asparagus fans around here and have been in somewhat of an asparagus rut lately. I think it’s because we are grilling so much right now that we just kept defaulting to eating my 3-Ingredient Grilled Asparagus. Not that that is necessarily a bad thing, as they are really delicious and easy to make, but after a while, the same dish gets boring to me.

These Sautéed Asparagus with Shallot + Lemon evolved a couple of weeks ago when we were grilling and there just wasn’t enough space on the grill to fit the asparagus. My husband (our resident grill-master) told me I would have to cook them inside. With no plans to bake our house by turning on the oven (it was a warm day), I grabbed some shallots and lemons and quickly came up with this dish.

I’ve made it a number of times since and it’s quickly becoming an easy weeknight favorite. It’s simple, light, fresh and the flavor pairs really well with a multitude of main dishes!