Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Earthly Combo: Stinging Nettles & Morels

This spring I've happened on a seasonal pairing that will be a regular part of the menu from now on: stinging nettles and morels. In particular, the combo involves Stinging Nettle Pesto with sauteed morels. You might wonder whether these two supremely earthy tastes would cancel each other out. To the contrary, they complement each other, one cool and woodsy with a sharp bite; the other rich and evocative of the ground beneath our feet.

We first tried the pairing as a crostini. Marty surprised me with it one evening while I was busy making a Pinot Noir reduction. She lightly toasted sliced baguette, spread on ricotta followed by the nettle pesto, and finished the crostini with sauteed morels. We knew she was onto something with the first bite. It sounds so simple, yes, and you can almost imagine the flavors if you've eaten these foods before. But the pairing is more than the sum of its parts.

The next try was a pizza with the pesto and morels, plus mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, and a sprinkling of garden greens. While Marty is known for making some mean pizza, this was off the hook.

Most of you will have to wait until next year to give it a shot. Stinging nettles are flowering across much of their range and morels are dust nearly everywhere except the higher elevations of the Northwest. I'm hoping I might get one more chance when I venture into the mountains in late June.

4 comments:

gala bent said...

they are truly meant to be together ...and especially on pizza! I like the combo with a leek bechamel sauce.

Martha Silano said...

Just looking at these photos is making me crave these two dishes all over again. Would it be possible to reconstitute some dried morels for this occasion? Or would the texture not quite be the same?

LC said...

Gala Bent - Now that's an evil combo! Must give it a try.

Martha Silano - Hey, I think I know you!

Be Grim said...

yes! I'm making pizza for dinner with nettle pesto from the freezer, asparagus, and these fresh morels..just searching my blogroll for how to prep the morels and came to this posting! Even though you don't give details, I am encouraged to forge ahead.....mmmmm....