For a long time I have been wanting to start foraging and eating wild mushrooms, but I haven’t had the time, energy or skills to know where to start. I joined a local mushrooming club (the Boston Mycological Club), participated in a class and bought a book, but made little progress in actually going to the woods and finding food- that is, until a three-day weekend rolled along. With time on our hands and morel season drawing to a close, we knew it was now or never if we wanted to get our hands on some of these precious pitted perishables.
So forage we did. Myself, my boyfriend and my sister trounced through thorns and brambles, eyes on the ground, trying to pick out the honeycomb pattern of the morels from the leaves matting the forest floor. Not long into our search we found and identified our first morel- followed quickly by several more. Perhaps it was beginners luck, perhaps it was our disregard of the harsh conditions, but morels were popping up everywhere. We picked the mushrooms that looked fresh, which the bugs had not already eaten, and within an hour or two we had a considerable haul (around 20 mushrooms of different sizes- enough for a dinner for three). On our way we also found a tree blossoming with oyster mushrooms, but that’s a recipe for a different day.
We brought our morels home, brushed off what we could and refrigerated them for the next day. It is important that you don’t use water to wash your morels until you’re ready to eat them- water can cause the mushrooms to get mushy or rot more quickly, and then your precious morels could be lost.
When you are ready to eat, place your morels in a large bowl and fill with water. As you swish the water around gently, bits of dirt and grime will fall off the mushrooms into the water. Every once in a while drain the water from the bowl and fill up, and swish the mushrooms again. You will know you’re done cleaning when they are no longer releasing dirt into the water. Be patient, this could take a little while.
I used the morels we foraged to make the creamiest vegan sauce I have ever had. Because my morels differed so much in size I cut them all into bite sized pieces, but if yours are all smaller you could cook them whole or cut neatly in half. I used the mushrooms, some garlic, onion and sage to flavor my sauce and unflavored, unsweetened soy milk to create the creamy texture.
We ate the sauce with some homemade fresh pasta, which was amazing and I highly recommend, but it could taste good in a number of ways. This sauce would taste fantastic over baked potatoes, zucchini noodles or even bread- as long as you serve it over something fairly simple that gives the morels their place to shine.
Vegan Morel Cream Sauce
- 3 cups of fresh morel mushrooms, cleaned and chopped into bite sized pieces
- 3 TBSP vegan butter
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced.
- 10 sage leaves
- Half an onion, diced
- 2 TBSP flour
- 2 cups of unsweetened, plain soy milk
1. Heat the butter in a large skillet. Once it has all melted add the morels and cook on medium high heat for about 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. As the mushrooms cook, the butter will change from gold to a brown-ish grey color.
2. Add the garlic, sage and onion to the mushrooms and stir. Cook for another 4 or so minutes, stirring so the garlic doesn’t burn.
3. Add the flour to the pan, and stir until the flour is completely combined. Continue to cook for another 2 minutes, stirring constantly so as not to let the flour burn.
4. Pour the soy milk into the pot, stirring well. Let the sauce heat to a slow bubble, stirring to not allow it to clump. Continue cooking and stirring while the sauce thickens. After about 10 minutes it should be smooth, silky, creamy and ready to go. Season with salt and pepper and enjoy over pasta or vegetables.