Linguine with Asparagus and Morels
Fresh morel mushrooms are a springtime delicacy and they pair beautifully with Pinot Noir. The earthy perfume of the mushroom marries well with that of spring vegetables, especially asparagus. When buying morels, look for ones that have a fresh mushroom smell and feel heavy. Turn down any that are shriveled or, worse, mushy and waterlogged. To clean the many crevices, swish morels briefly in a bowl of water.
- 2 lbs asparagus
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 1 large, sweet white onion, diced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 lb fresh morel mushrooms, quartered
- Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock
- Leaves from 5 large fresh thyme sprigs, coarsely chopped
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 lb fresh linguine
- 1/2 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
- Handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, coarsely chopped
- 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Trim off the tough stem ends from the asparagus spears. Using a vegetable peeler or an asparagus peeler, and starting about 2 inches below the tip, peel off the outer skin from each spear. Cut on the diagonal into 1/2-inch pieces.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the asparagus and cook for 1 minute. Using a large skimmer, transfer the asparagus to a colander, reserving the cooking water. Run cold water over the asparagus to preserve its bright green color and to stop the cooking. Drain the asparagus and set aside.
In a large fry pan over medium heat, warm the 1/3 cup olive oil. Add the onion and sauté until soft and just starting to turn golden, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, morels and asparagus, season with salt and pepper and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the stock and simmer until the vegetables are tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the thyme and lemon juice and mix well.
Meanwhile, return the reserved asparagus-cooking water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until al dente (tender but firm to the bite), about 3 minutes. Drain well and add to the fry pan. Add the pine nuts and parsley and toss briefly to blend all the ingredients. Taste and adjust the seasonings, and add a drizzle of olive oil.
Transfer the pasta to a warmed large, shallow bowl and sprinkle about 3 Tbs. of the cheese over the top. Serve immediately and enjoy!