Roasted Asparagus and Fresh Morel Pasta Recipe
Roasted asparagus pasta with fresh morels (pâtes aux morilles fraîches et asperges vertes) is a creamy, rich pasta dish. How could it not be delicious? First, I sautéed the morels in butter, added a white sauce (béchamel) mixed with crème fraîche, then tossed spaghetti rigati in the sauce. The final touch was roasted baby asparagus for contrast of color and some crunch, and lemon to cut the richness of the sauce. I chose baby asparagus because it most closely matches the thickness of the pasta and you can eat the whole stalks.
It was a perfect meal for a romantic dinner with my husband. I'm trying to be better about my eating habits, so I served smaller portions with a big salad. Eating right doesn’t have to mean giving up the foods you like. In fact, I think we have a better chance of maintaining healthy eating habits if we’re enjoying our meals. So enjoy this pasta; it might even help you lose weight!
Yields: 6 servings1 pound fresh morels
3 tablespoons white vinegar
3-½ tablespoons unsalted butter
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
6 ounces crème fraîche (click on the link for the recipe)
1-½ tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 (8-ounce) can vegetable broth, warmed for 2 minutes in the microwave
1-½ tablespoons coarse salt
1-½ pounds small asparagus spears
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 (15-ounce) package spaghetti rigati
1-½ teaspoons white pepper, freshly ground
2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Zest and juice the lemon.
Roasting the asparagus: Preheat your oven to 400°F. Trim about ½ inch from the root. Line a baking pan with a sheet of parchment paper or aluminum foil. Brush with olive oil. Spread the asparagus on the baking pan. Drizzle with more olive oil to coat the asparagus. Toss well. Season with salt and pepper. Roast for about 15 minutes, tossing half-way through the cooking process for even roasting. Remove from the pan. Cut the asparagus into about 2-½" pieces. Drizzle with half the lemon juice.
For the spaghetti rigati:
Bring about 5 quarts of water to a boil. Add the spaghetti, bring back to a boil, then immediately lower the heat to a gentle boil. That way the pasta is cooked all the way through evenly. Cook the pasta for about 12 minutes total. Salt the water half-way through the cooking process (it will bring out the natural flavor of the pasta and it will be more tender) and keep stirring every now and then so the pasta doesn't stick to the bottom of the pot. It may take longer than the cooking time that's written on the box. When the pasta is cooked, drain the pasta (do NOT rinse). Transfer to a large flat platter. You can also skip this step and transfer the pasta directly to the large pan.
Cooking the morels in cream sauce:
Trim the ends. Delicately brush the mushrooms. In a bowl, dissolve the vinegar in water and rinse the morels 2-3 times. Pat dry on paper towels. Cut them in half. Set aside.
In a small pan, melt 1-½ tablespoons butter. Add the minced garlic and cook until slightly golden. Add the shallot and the morels. Lower the heat and cook for about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
In a deep large pan, melt the remaining butter over medium-low heat; you don't want it to burn. Bring the heat back up to medium-high (the butter should be hot and golden) and add the flour. The flour should absorb the butter instantly and form a paste. Add about 6 ounces of the warm vegetable broth in 3 stages until the sauce reaches the perfect consistency. Whisk well until fully incorporated. Increase the heat while constantly stirring for about 2-3 minutes. Reduce the heat to low. Season with salt and pepper. Add the crème fraîche and keep stirring manually with a whisk for approximately 2 minutes. Add the rest of the vegetable broth if the sauce is too thick.
Add the mushrooms to the cream sauce and let simmer for about 10-15 minutes; the cream will be infused with the unique flavor of the morel mushrooms.
In the deep pan, add the spaghetti to the cream sauce. Gently toss the pasta.
Transfer to a serving platter. Top with the roasted asparagus. Toss well.
Top the pasta with lemon zest and drizzle with remaining lemon juice. Finish with chopped parsley.
You could replace the fresh morels with 3-½ ounces of dried morels and re-hydrate them in lukewarm water.
I used store-bought crème fraîche but you can make your own if you have left-over heavy cream (click on the link in the ingredient list). It's super easy to make.
To make the cream sauce, all the ingredients should be at the same temperature, so be sure to heat the vegetable broth in the microwave (or in a saucepan) for about 2 minutes, so it's warm. If you get lumpy pieces in the sauce, don't hesitate to use a hand blender.
And if you're a pasta lover, check out other pasta dishes.Published By: on July 14, 2010.