Mafalde Pasta with Morel Mushrooms and Asparagus encompasses everything magical about spring: bright, tender shoots of green asparagus, and mushrooms that can only be found with a walk in the woods, suddenly pleasant after several months of cold. I am tardy with sharing this recipe, however, since my own spring turned magical with a trip to Italy, and boy have I got things to say about driving here! Scroll to bottom of post for the recipe.
I will get to the pasta in a minute, but first, admit it, you have been wondering about me driving in Italy. Or you are Facebook friends with me and already know that I have (re)mastered stick and now zoom up and down 15-20% grade hills that are only about as wide as my car.
You think I jest. Ha.
Many people advised me not to drive in Italy. To that I said hogwash. I guess it is the American in me, but I just cannot fathom being somewhere for 4 weeks without a car–and that is not a large city. Emphasis on that last part. I could live in Rome or Paris or London for 4 weeks without a car easily, but Calabria is pretty remote. I am more convinced than ever now that I have done it that I would have missed so much without the car. Like what you ask? Medieval (Baroque? Some era, who knows, but OLD) cities carved out of mountaintops appearing out of nowhere when one gets lost driving to Poitano, for example (top middle photo and the church in the second complete row).Breathtaking mountain vistas. Farms with wooly lambs. The experience of being unfazed by 3 lane creation in a 2 lane road just so people can pass. Crazy switchbacks for getting up and down mountains. My personal favorite, stopping for a shepherdess and her goats crossing the road coming home from Tropea:
Notice the dog on the far right? There were several, one was chasing a car, or so it seemed, but then we realized he was with the goats. Made me nervous! But still! Goats! Crossing the road! That made me so happy I took 2 pics:
Anyway, suffice to say it has been exhilarating and I would now rent a car anywhere in Europe. Except the British Isles. I need more than 4 weeks to work up to right sided driving in the left lane!
OK this dish. Remember the asparagus dish I shared a little bit ago? I served pork tenderloin to my family with asparagus. I had leftovers of each, but no leftover bread and not enough leftover asparagus for all 4 of us. So I re-served the pork as it was, but I turned the asparagus into a new dish, helped by the fact that while my family was with me they went mushrooms hunting and found several pounds of morel mushrooms on my property!
If you cannot find (or afford the ones in the store) morels, I would still make this dish with different mushrooms. The morels were amazing, but not worth not making the dish over. Because the dish is fantastic. Likewise, if you do not have leftover Asparagus with Lemon and Sesame, just blanch fresh asparagus and add some lemon juice and zest. And if your store does not carry Mafalde pasta, just grab some tagliatelle or fettuccine.
- 1 T extra virgin olive oil
- 3 T unsalted butter, divided
- 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 6-8 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 T fresh minced thyme
- approx. 1 lb fresh morel mushrooms, quickly soaked to remove any hiding critters and bottoms of stems removed
- salt to taste
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- leftover asparagus (if using fresh use 1 bunch, blanched and add lemon juice)
- fresh ground black pepper to taste
- 1 lb dry mafalde pasta, cooked to your preference
- Heat the oil and 1 tablespoon of butter in a large skillet over medium high until shimmering. Add the onion with a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring, until the onions are translucent and starting to get golden, about 10 minutes.
- Add the thyme and garlic and mix. Cook for another 1-2 minutes.
- Add the mushrooms with another pinch of salt. Cook, stirring, until the mushrooms have released their water and have shrunk a bit, 5-8 minutes.
- Add the wine and stir, cooking until the moisture has evaporated.
- Add the cream and asparagus and toss. Cook until the sauce has thickened and the asparagus is heated through.
- Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, as well as the cooked pasta, and toss. Serve immediately.