Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Morel Mania (Yes, I have it!): Lemon/Pepper Pappardelle with Morels, Broccolini and Sage Browned Butter

I'm just going to let this picture speak for itself. Hungry yet?

Morel mushrooms - although not exactly purty - are one of the mushroom kingdom's greatest gifts to the world. And if you're as big a fan of morels as I am, meaning you covet them, and stalk them for the few weeks of the year when they are available fresh, and are willing to pay out the nose for them if you don't hunt them yourself ($50 a pound is not uncommon)... well then - the photo and recipe for this pasta dish should set you drooling. And I can assure you, it is as good as it looks and sounds. (Truth be told - this dish can be made with any meaty mushrooms: portobellos, shiitakes, crimini or even plain old white buttons. Good to know for the other 11 months of the year when you can't get morels!)

Credit goes to my friend Pauline for the suggestion of adding sage to the browned butter (I'm usually just a purist - butter, mushrooms and a dash of salt please!) - but the herb just livens up the earthy, woodsiness of the mushrooms even more. You really can taste the forest from whence they come - and if you're lucky, the smoke from the fires that coaxed the spores to life. Just thinking about it makes my mouth water.

So get theyself to a good Farmers Market in the coming weeks and gorge on these goodies while you can. Mother Nature giveth, and she taketh away - so don't let Spring pass you by without making a meal out of some morels!

Lemon/Pepper Pappardelle with Morels, Broccolini and Sage Browned Butter
  • 8 ounces pappardelle pasta (I used the DELICIOUS lemon/pepper variety from Trader Joe's)
  • 1/2 pound of fresh morel mushrooms (To clean morels: soak in really cold water to remove dirt; rinse/repeat until water runs clear. You can also gently rub them between your fingers to loosen dirt from the grooves. Air dry thoroughly.)
  • 1/4 pound broccolini, trimmed (broccoli rabe will also work)
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 6-8 large sage leaves, chopped
Cook the pasta according to package directions; drain. If sticky, coat with a touch of olive oil and toss to separate the pasta ribbons. In a saute pan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. When the butter starts to foam and the edges have browned (stir to avoid burning - and keep the heat low!), add the sage and mushrooms. Saute until tender, about five minutes. Add the tiny broccolini at the very end, saute until al dente. Top individual servings of the pasta with generous heapings of the mushroom mixture.


  1. I loooove morels, this looks gorgeous!
    I'm lucky enough to have them growing in my backyard, but they haven't come up yet.

  2. Having been on the receiving end of that meal, I can vouch that it was absolutely fantastic. The granita for dessert was really amazing as well, and of course, since I was sent home with Meyer Lemons I took a stab at it myself. It came out quite nice, but I didn't let the mint steep long enough. Man, that was a great meal.

  3. I had a very similar dish at L20 in chicago...supposed to be one of the best restaurants in chicago. out of my four course meal, this one had to be my favorite...sooo yummy!! the only thing different was that the chef infused parsley leaves in the pappardelle....a meal to remember...def gonna try this one at home!!!!

  4. I made this dish on Sunday, and it was easy and delicious. I think the lemon pepper pasta adds wonderful flavor. I'm not sure I got the butter to the browned stage. I was nervous to burn it - so when I thought is looked vaguely beige I added the mushrooms and sage. Even a bashful cook like myself made it work, so give it a try!

  5. This is an amazing picture! How do you light it?

  6. Katerina - I mainly use natural light. I generally shoot in the late afternoon and use the gorgeous light coming through my big southwest-facing kitchen window. I'll use a reflector if I want to lighten up the shadows, which I think I did in this case.

  7. If that tastes as good as it looks, it is a winner.

  8. It's amazing to me to see morels as expensive as they are, when I grew up my brother would bring home pounds of them every day (during season of course) and we'd just shake them in flour and fry them, and eat them till we'd get sick of them. I've never had them any other way, but I'll send this to my mom and demand she make it this season, that or give me some mushrooms haha!