Adapted from an Edible Portland recipe by Sheldon Marcuvitz and Carole Laity
It’s incredible that so few ingredients can provide so much flavour in every bite. The fabulous meaty texture and mild nuttiness of the mushrooms combined with the brightness of the asparagus and the creaminess of the sauce create a winning dish that’s sure to create requests for repeat performances.
Makes 4 servings
4 small leeks, white and light green parts only
1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1½ -inch lengths
¼ cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter
½ pound fresh morels, rehydrated dried morels, or other mushrooms, sliced
1½ cups whipping (35%) cream
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp kosher salt, plus more if needed
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus more if needed
1 pound fresh tagliatelle or fettuccine, preferably egg-based Cut each leek in half lengthwise. Place one leek half cut-side-down on a cutting board, then slice it lengthwise into very thin julienne strips. Repeat with the other leek halves; set aside.
Have a large bowl of ice water ready. In a large pot of boiling salted water, add the asparagus. Bring the water back up to a simmer and cook the asparagus until almost tender-crisp, about 2 minutes. Using a large slotted spoon or spider skimmer, quickly remove the asparagus to a colander set over a large bowl. (The asparagus-cooking water will be used to cook the noodles, so keep the water at a simmer). Plunge the drained asparagus into the bowl of ice water; when cooled, return the asparagus to the colander to drain; set aside.
In a large sauté pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the leeks, toss to coat with the butter and cook, stirring occasionally until the leeks are wilted and tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the morels, increase the heat to medium-high, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid released from the mushrooms has been reabsorbed, 3 to 4 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium, add the cream, thyme, salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally until the sauce has thickened slightly, 3 to 4 minutes. Turn off the heat. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Add in the blanched asparagus.
Return the asparagus-cooking water to a boil. Add the noodles, stir well, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the noodles are slightly undercooked. Using a ladle, remove ¼ cup of the pasta-cooking water to a small bowl. Quickly drain the noodles into a large colander, then add them into the sauté pan with the sauce and asparagus. Turn the heat to medium-high and gently toss the noodles with the sauce until they are cooked to al dente, about 1 minute, adding some of the pasta-cooking water if the sauce becomes too thick. Serve immediately.