This weekend I’m cooking a dinner as part of a fundraiser I participate in every year to raise money for BBSRA. I had to come up with something to cook, of course, and with all those spongy little morels hanging out at various Seattle farmer’s markets, I couldn’t help but find a way to incorporate them into the menu. I sautéed them in butter and a little sage and folded them into homemade gnocchi I made from Mark Bittman’s recipe in How to Cook Everything, and topped them with a scoop of mascarpone cheese (sorry, but I have to do something with the rest of the container, right?).
When we were done with dinner, my husband found a few stray raw gnocchi that had somehow snuck out of the floured towel I’d rolled them onto. Undeterred by the fact that we’d just finished our own giant portions, he scooped them into a piece of aluminum foil and proceeded to make what he called an Italian Pop-Tart.
After lining them up perfectly, he wrapped and folded them into a neat little square, and I realized he was about to stick the foil packet into our pop-up toaster.
I was horrified. He glared at me. “You know what Mom’s problem is?” he asked the dog. “She has no vision.”
In case you hadn’t guessed, toaster-steamed raw gnocchi aren’t so good. He fed them to both the dog and the cat, who surprised us both with his appetite for potato blobs. My husband chastised him for taking such small bites.
And just to be clear, it’s pronounced mo-RELs, not MO-rels. Those are the values your parents were supposed to have instilled in you.
Recipe for Gnocchi with Morels and Mascarpone
Recipe 131 of 365
Fresh morel mushrooms are only available for a few weeks each year, and are best used just after they’re picked. They look like little hats, which means they can sometimes hide debris (read: bugs) inside. I tend to cut them open and slice them before I use them, just to be completely sure no one’s coming along for the ride. Serve the gnocchi with a big simple salad and a glass of pinot noir.
TIME: 20 minutes, if using storebought gnocchi
MAKES: 4 smaller servings
1 (17.6-ounce) package regular or whole wheat gnocchi, or homemade
1/2 pound morel mushrooms, cleaned and ends trimmed
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 clove garlic (or 4 garlic shoots), finely chopped
6 large sage leaves, chopped, or 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup mascarpone cheese
Bring a big saucepan of salted water to boil for the gnocchi. While the water heats, slice the mushrooms vertically into halves or quarters, or eighths for larger mushrooms.
When the water comes to a boil, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. When the butter has melted, begin cooking the gnocchi according to package instructions. Add the garlic and the sage to the skillet, and cook for about 30 seconds, stirring. Add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the mushrooms just begin to cook down.
Strain the gnocchi, and transfer it to the skillet with the mushrooms. Stir to coat the gnocchi with the butter sauce, season to taste with salt and pepper, then transfer the gnocchi to four wide bowls and top with any remaining mushrooms and a dollop of the mascarpone cheese. Serve immediately.