Wild mushrooms are still going strong and we have a secret forage place for chanterelles at Echo Valley Farm. I’m not allowed to say where exactly for obvious reasons. The bigger woodier ones are great to chop up for duxelles and use as ravioli filling.
If chanterelles are scarce in your area, look for hedgehog mushrooms which start to replace them this time of year. They have a similar taste and look with little spikey gills under the cap, hence the name. These gills should be scraped off before cooking because they have a fuzzy mouth feel.
Whole Foods now sells egg pasta sheets which cuts down on the prep if time is a consideration. If not, I have my tried and true recipe here. There are lots of shapes and sizes to experiment with. I like the one pictured below, which looks like a big plump wonton. Dumplings are cute and sexy and make a great starter for a romantic dinner – ahem – Valentines day?
Cut pasta sheets into perfect squares, stuff with a teaspoon of filling, fold into a triangle sealing edges with a little egg wash, then fold again into a triangle sealing two of the tips together with more egg wash. Refrigerate if using immediately or store in an air-tight container and freeze.
It’s the little garnishes that make an easy dish exciting. Although there is kale in the filling along with mushrooms and leeks, the addition of kale chips adds a nice light crunch. Brush leaves (de-stemed) with a little olive oil and season with salt. Bake in a slow oven at 175˚F for 30 – 40 minutes until crispy. They will keep for a few days.
The spice caraway is more often used in rye bread or sauerkraut then for sauces. But I love its anise-like flavor that elevates parmesan and cream to earthy rich goodness.
This sauce steals the show and is one of the best flavor combos I’ve had for awhile. And it’s easy…
- 1 bunch kale, blanch 3/4's of bunch and chop, make kale chips with remaining leaves
- 1 1/2 baskets wild or button mushrooms (have some pretty ones for garnish), chopped finely
- 1 medium leek, white and light green part only, chopped finely
- 1 pint heavy whipping cream
- 2 cups grated parmemsan
- 2 teaspoons caraway seeds, lightly toasted
- 1 package egg pasta sheets or make by hand, cut into squares 3-inches by 3-inches
- Olive oil
- Sea salt
For the ravioli filling: In a skillet, heat two tablespoons of olive and sauté mushrooms and leeks over moderately high heat, stirring frequently. When the mushroom liquid has been reabsorbed and the filling is dry and slightly browned, season to taste with sea salt and remove from heat and cool.
In a mixing bowl, combine mushroom mixture with chopped kale that has been squeezed of all water content. Add 1/2 cup grated parmesan and combine. Taste mixture and add more parmesan if desired.
Cut egg pasta into squares and place a teaspoon of filling in the center. With a little water or egg wash seal the edges together to form a triangle and press around filling to remove any air bubbles. Fold into a triangle again pressing two of the corners together to form won-ton like pasta. Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator if using immediately or the freezer.
Cook pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water for 3-4 minutes. Before serving toss in a little melted butter for gloss.
For the caraway cream sauce: in a small sauce pot reduce 1 pint of heavy cream by one third over medium heat. Add one cup of grated parmesan and whisk to incorporate and two teaspoons of toated caraway seeds. Let simmer for another 3-5 minutes until sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Add more paremsan or a little sea salt to taste. Sauce can be refrigeated and reheated or kept warm until ready to serve.
Serve pasta over the cream sauce with a few pretty sautéed wild mushrooms around and a kale chip.