My friend, neighbor and forager, Connie Green, is very generous with her mushrooms. I’ve had such a good time figuring out delicious things to do with them. So far, my favorite dish has been to saute them with heaps of garlic, rosemary and salt in lots of good olive oil. Drizzling this mixture over mild, white beans may not sound so exciting but I’ve served this about six times since morel season started and it’s been a huge hit with my dining pals. You don’t want to cook the beans together with the morels. Rather than blended flavors, we’re going after layers. And really, it couldn’t be easier, especially if you’ve made your beans ahead of time.
This is a good “gateway” dish if you’re looking to cut down or eliminate meat in your diet. It’s substantial without being heavy and I can’t imagine anyone leaving the table in anything less than a good mood.
- 1 pound uncooked Rancho Gordo Caballero, Alubia Blanca, or Royal Corona beans
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/4 white onion, peeled and diced
- 6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 1 cup or so of Wine Forest dried morel mushrooms
- 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh rosemary
- 2 teaspoons sea salt, or to taste
- 1/4 cup olive oil
Serves 4 to 6
- Pick through the beans, looking for debris and organic matter. Rinse them well and cover by several inches of water and leave them to soak 4 to 6 hours.
- In a large pot, add the beans, their soaking water, the bay leaf, onion, and 2 of the garlic cloves. Bring the heat up to high and allow the water to come to a full boil for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat the low, letting the beans gently simmer until soft, about 1 and a half to 2 hours. Add about 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste) as soon as the beans start getting soft. Allow time for the beans to absorb the salt.
- Meanwhile, cover the mushrooms in hot but not boiling water (see note below). Use a small plate to keep them submerged and soak for about 20 minutes. Remove the mushrooms, gently rinsing them in the soaking water to remove any possible grit that can cling to them. Slice them into rings. Strain the mushroom soaking liquid through a fine mesh sieve and save for another use.
- Chop the remaining 4 cloves of garlic, the rosemary, and about 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste) until you have a coarse mixture. Heat the oil over medium heat in a pan and add the rosemary mixture, stirring well and cooking until the garlic is golden and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook another 5 minutes. Check the mushrooms so that they don’t overcook and get mushy.
- Ladle the beans into serving bowls and then add about 2 tablespoons of the mushroom mixture to each serving. Allow guests to stir it in themselves.
Notes: You can rinse the mushrooms in water before chopping if you’re concerned about grit but morels aren’t as gritty as porcini and other mushrooms and quality mushrooms, like Wine Forest’s, don’t tend to be gritty.
Don’t be tempted to use hot water from your tap. It’s better to heat the water for soaking the mushrooms. Hot tap water can be nasty after sitting in your heater for who knows how long. You can add the reserved mushroom soaking water to the cooked beans if you like but it’s a really nice bonus and I think it gets lost in this dish. It’s better to use it somewhere else, but do save it. It’s loaded with flavor.