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Richard Lyness' contribution, this recipe embodies springtime. I can think of few things more succulent than fresh morels!
Yield: Serves 6.
Prep time: 1 hour
Cook time: 30 minutes
1 oz dried morel mushrooms
1 1/2 c warm water
1/2 lb asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4 lb thin green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
3/4 c frozen baby peas, thawed
2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp dried hot red pepper flakes
4 Tbl extra-virgin olive oil
3 c cherry tomatoes, cut into halves
1 Tbl balsamic vinegar
3 Tbl water
1 lb spaghettini
1/4 c unsalted butter
2/3 c heavy cream
1 c dry white wine
1 tsp finely grated fresh lemon zest
1 c finely grated Parmigiano–Reggiano, plus extra for garnish
1/4 c finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 c finely chopped fresh basil
1/3 c pine nuts, lightly toasted
Salt and pepper to taste
Soak morels in 1 1/2 c warm water for 30 minutes. Lift mushrooms out of water and squeeze excess liquid back into the bowl. Pour the mushroom-soaking liquid through a sieve lined with a dampened coffee filter or paper towel into a small bowl and reserve it. Rinse the morels thoroughly to remove the grit and squeeze dry again. Discard any tough stems. Coarsely chop the morels.
Steam the asparagus, beans and peas until tender crisp, about 5 minutes. Transfer the vegetables to a colander and rinse with cool water.
Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and stir just until garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes are softened, about 3 minutes. Add vinegar and water and simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened and tomatoes are softened, 3 to 4 minutes.
Cook spaghettini according to package directions. Drain the cooked pasta in a colander. Add the butter, cream, wine, zest, and morels to the empty pasta pot and simmer gently, uncovered, until heated through, about 2 minutes.
Stir in cheese and add pasta, tossing to coat. Add green vegetables, tomatoes, parsley, basil, pine nuts, and salt and pepper to taste and toss gently to combine. If necessary, add any soaking water to thin the sauce. After serving the pasta, pass extra cheese.