Here near Chicago, spring is often the merest seasonal sliver between frozen tundra and sweltering tropics. This year we’ve gotten a late start, and people are yearning for warm weather. Before it get too hot, I’m thinking some spring vegetables with a light refreshing flavor is in order.
Initially I thought of a lasagna, but felt it would hide the beautiful asparagus, so I changed it up, and went with a roll up, same ingredients, same flavor, prettier plating. I made this in a dry run a few weeks ago and was very happy with the flavor combination. Then, serendipitously, my wife’s uncle came up from downstate with a small batch of home grown asparagus and some just foraged morel mushrooms. He “knew I liked to cook” so he gave me some. Very thoughtful, and my sincere thanks to “Uncle Ken.”
Please don’t be put off by the many steps, this is a simple recipe that takes less than an hour to pull together. The components can be made a day ahead and assembled and baked when you are ready.
If I were to adapt this recipe, I might swap out the asparagus for fiddle head ferns. If you don’t have access to Morels any good mushroom will do.
Asparagus & Lemon Ricotta Rollups with Morel Cream Sauce
Makes 4 rollups
Serve one as an appetizer or two as a light entrée
For the roll-ups:
6 sheets of lasagna pasta – store bought or homemade – there are two extra in case they tear
12-16 Asparagus spears, woody end trimmed and peeled
1 cup – (250 mL) Ricotta – homemade or store bought
Salt and pepper
For the Cream Sauce:
1 Tablespoon (15 ml) butter
8 morel mushrooms – cleaned and halved or quartered if they are large
1/2 cup (125 ml) heavy cream
1 Tablespoon (15 ml) cornstarch
Ground White pepper
Cook pasta according to directions until just tender – if you’re making fresh pasta I assume you know how to cook it,
Remove from cooking water and place into cool water, you can also put them on a tray or a plate and spread them with a little olive oil to keep them from sticking together.
- Turn oven to broil
- Toss asparagus with a little olive oil season with a pinch each of salt and pepper
- Put asparagus on small pan, place pan under the broiler
- Cook, keeping a constant watch and turning spears frequently until slightly charred
- Remove from broiler and set aside
Prepare cheese filling
- Put ricotta in a bowl, zest the lemon directly into the bowl stir to combine
- Cut lemon in half, and juice half into the cheese mixture, stir to combine – for a fluffier consistency whisk or use a hand blender
- Taste – add more lemon, salt and pepper as required
- Preheat oven to 400F, 220C or Gasmark 7
- Lightly oil a sheet pan
- Gently remove a pasta sheet from the cool water. Blot dry
- Place pasta sheet on work surface and trim to about 2 inches wide by 5 inches long
- Place 3-4 asparagus spears perpendicular (cross-wise) to the pasta sheet with the bud extending – don’t put them in the middle
- Add lemon ricotta filling – about 2 tablespoons (30 mL) on top of the spears
- Gently roll up pasta, cheese & asparagus bundle
- Place onto prepared pan
- Repeat 3 more times
- Cover loosely with aluminum foil and place into hot oven
- Cook until hot – about 15 – 20 minutes – While rollups cook, make the cream sauce
- Remove from oven, remove foil from the rollup but keep the delicate tops of the asparagus covered
- Set oven to broil
- Grate parmesan lightly over the top of the pasta
- Return pan to oven and broil until top is just lightly browned
Make the Morel Cream Sauce
- In small sauté pan over medium heat melt the butter
- Add the morels and cook until lightly browned
- Add cornstarch and stir until mushrooms are coated
- Add the cream and stir gently – don’t break up the mushrooms
- Season with salt an pepper
- Bring to simmer, when cream mixture thickens, reduce heat and keep warm, stir as needed if it starts to develop a “skin”
Spoon a small amount cream sauce only (no mushrooms) onto a plate. Top with rollup – add mushrooms on sides.
I’d pair this with a Sauvignon Blanc or perhaps a dry Riesling.
Until next time, Eat Well & Keep Digging!
May 20, 2014
When I first saw a photo of this, on Facebook, I thought it was Asparagus rolled in a white fish (Sole?), but I’m glad it is not! (You know I don’t eat any seafood…). How nice to have fresh morels too.