I love mushrooms of all kinds, and morels are no exception. They’re available fresh for a short time each spring, and their rarity and elusiveness means, unfortunately, that they’re pricey (the bf was shocked at how much I shelled out for a small container of them). They’re available dried year-round, but there’s nothing like a fresh morel sautéed in butter – the flavor is earthy and rich and the texture is slightly chewy but not quite as spongy as other mushrooms. Make sure you cook them, though, because morels are toxic when raw, and the toxin is broken down by heat.
Risotto with Asparagus and Morels
3 cups vegetable broth
1 large shallot
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
¾ cup Arborio rice
¼ cup dry white wine
¼ cup + 1 tablespoon freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
½ pound asparagus
¼ cup fresh morels
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 teaspoons minced parsley
½ teaspoon grated lemon zest
Add the vegetable broth to a small saucepan and bring it to a simmer. Turn the heat to low and keep the broth covered.
Add 1 tablespoon of butter to a medium saucepan set over medium heat. Finely chop the shallot and add it to the pan when the butter has melted. Cook the shallot until it is translucent and soft, about 3 minutes. Add the rice and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes. Add the wine and cook until almost all of it has cooked off, about 1 minute.
Add ½ cup of the hot vegetable broth to the rice and stir occasionally until almost all of it has been absorbed. Continue adding ½ cup of broth at a time until the rice is soft but still has some texture in the center. You might not need all 3 cups of the broth – I used a little over 2 ½ cups.
In the meantime, wash and dry the asparagus and chop it into 1” pieces. Wash and dry the morels and cut any large mushrooms in half. Melt the butter in a small skillet set over medium heat and add the morels, asparagus, and a pinch of salt. Cook until the asparagus is slightly tender, about 5 minutes.
Mix the parsley and lemon zest together in a small bowl and set it aside.
When the rice is done, remove the pan from heat and stir in ¼ cup of the cheese. Add salt to taste. Divide the rice between two serving plates and top each with half of the sautéed vegetables. Top each serving with half of the remaining cheese and half of the lemon-parsley mixture. Serve immediately.