By P.M. DEVLIN
We are blessed here in Western Montana with a truly prolific season for wild morel mushrooms.
If you do not like these delicacies then I apologize, because the joy I receive from anticipating their arrival, hunting them, and turning them into dishes is so perfect, so satisfying.
As far as a how-to on finding these things…good luck! I suggest you make friends with a mushroom head or do some research, but most importantly get out there now and look. Look long, look hard, and look in the Bitterroots…I’ve already said too much.
Fiddleheads are another seasonable foraged food, and are not all that popular around here, but if you hunt near small creeks, and look close to the ground where the new ferns are just emerging, you can pluck these buttery little treats in abundance. They look just like the scroll or head of a violin or fiddle and are a bit like a more delicate asparagus.
My sister and I went for a much-needed hike with the dog the other week and had a nice little score of both of these foraged foods. We decided to make gluten-free pizza.
For this dish you will need:
- Patience and a good pair of eyes
- A pound or so of morel mushrooms
- 2-3 handfuls of fresh fiddlehead ferns
- Mascarpone cheese
- Yellow heirloom tomatoes
- Fresh garlic
- Fresh basil
- One lemon
- Loose, mild Italian sausage
- Asiago cheese
- Pepper flakes
- Gluten-free pizza crust
I really like the crust available from Bridge Pizza for $6.00. It seems pricey, but believe me, by the time you purchase the 27th ingredient for the homemade stuff, including xantham gum, you will hear a cacophony of “I told you so’s” from yours truly. One note on this crust – you want to get it home and back into the freezer or into the oven asap.
Prep the crust for about seven minutes in a 375 degree oven. Then pull it out and set aside while you get the soaked and cleaned morels in a hot pan with some olive oil, a spot of butter, and some salt and pepper. In another pan, get the sausage broken up and browning in some canola oil.
Each of these need not be cooked completely as they will be treated in the oven with the pizza. Slice and dice a bunch or garlic, tomato, and basil and set aside.
Up the oven temp to 410, set a medium pan of water to boil for the fiddleheads, and begin assembling your pie.
I don’t like a lot of sauce, and I think a simple white pizza does better here. Drizzle olive oil over the crust and dollup some mascarpone and asiago-romano as well as slices of the yellow tomato.
Now lay down the sausage and morels, and toss all the fiddlehead ferns in the boiling, salted water.
I like to give the surface of the pie another drizzle of olive oil, some crushed red pepper, half your basil, the rest of the cheese, a few cracks or fresh pepper and lots of fresh garlic.
Let the pie cook about 10-15 minutes so that the cheese is nicely browned but the crust NOT over-crisped.
While the pie is cooking, the fiddleheads should boil for a few minutes. The water will turn a little brown. Now blanch them by pouring into a strainer and covering with very cold water.
Then, return them to a pan with olive oil, garlic, a bit of salt, and a squeeze of lemon. Let sautée on high heat. These little gems don’t take much doing to taste good, just don’t overdo it. When they are nicely sautéed, about 2-3 minutes, remove from heat and hit with another kiss of lemon.
By this time, your pizza pie should be perfectly bubbly and delicious.
Toss on the rest of the fresh basil and some more fresh garlic and enjoy this gluten-free feast – a slice of pie, a pile of fiddleheads, and a nice chilled Albarino white wine.
Hungry for more delicious, gluten-free recipes? Check out the Gluten-free with PMD archive.