Gentlemen, I give you: spring. If it's not there yet, it will be. And with it, comes actual growth...not just the stuff that manages to survive over the snow covered winter (I'm looking at you, beets.)
And soon, along with tree buds and daffodils and farmers sowing seeds, unplanned things will start to pop up in forests and fields: ramps and fiddlehead ferns, and perhaps my favorite food, like, ever: morel mushrooms.
These wild guys start to show around this time of year, and will continue over the next ten weeks, or so, depending on your climate. They grow almost everywhere in the U.S. where it rains, and a hike combined with a bit of off the trail mushroom hunting sounds like a great way to spend a spring Saturday.
There are lots of intro guides out there, but this one from Field & Stream offers some great pics, suggestions for where to look, and examples of mushrooms you definitely don't want to pick. They offer some tips for cooking them as well, with suggestions of wild turkey or crappie fillets (it is Field & Stream, after all), but if you're looking for some ideas on how to best use your foraged goods, these are a great place to start.
- Morels in cream sauce from Saveur
- Morel pan sauce for roasted pork (just add the fresh at the end; they'll accompany the dried ones wonderfully)
- Pappardelle with wild mushrooms by Jamie Oliver
- Saveur's morels and broad beans
Just keep things simple: a little salt and pepper, some butter or cream, and let the 'shrooms do the work.
A Beginner's Guide to Hunting Morel Mushrooms [FieldandStream.com]