The year is moving on apace and even though there are no thoughts yet of dragging the ac unit from storage, the colours and flavours of the kitchen are all the proof you need that change is afoot. Blood oranges have all but disappeared, rhubarb is well into its season and all of a sudden cavelo nero and kale are not the only greens available. Wild Garlic or Ramps as they are known here in the US are one of the first signs of a more bountiful season.
Morels also appear come spring time and when Carmine, who owns the fruit and veg store where I live, handed me a bag of the wild mushrooms free of charge it dawned on us both that paired with some ramps, lots of butter and a little parsley I would have the makings of a perfect seasonal dish.
I should say that while I have always enjoyed the new season wild garlic, mushrooms in general are not my favourite food. I think it’s the earthiness as I am no fan of the beetroot, perhaps one too many mud pies as a child. Anyway ‘I could not look a gift horse in the mouth’ (can anyone tell me what that means?), so I prepared a simple pasta dish that actually changed my feelings on morels altogether.
The fact that uncooked they reminded me of a very smelly pair of socks made me a little cautious with my portioning but I gently sautéed a handful in some butter with a few of the chopped ramps stalks and salt until I had drawn out some of their moisture (3-5 minutes). Removing them from the pan I added a little more butter and salt to cook the rest of the ramps. Meanwhile in salted water I cooked some tagliatelle, which once drained I mixed with a splash of oil. When the ramps were warmed through I returned the morels to the pan, added some parsley and then poured the pasta on top. The whole lot was then tossed together with a gentle squeeze of lemon juice.
I really did not expect to enjoy the dish so much, there was no hint of smelly socks but instead a gaminess that work so well with the butter and ramps. I only wished I had cooked a little more, but thankfully with the mountain of morels I still have there is always another meal around the corner.