For many, the legendarily delicious morel is spring’s most highly coveted culinary treasure. The cherished mushrooms usually start appearing in the wild in April, spurring morel hunting expeditions (a seasonal tradition for many) and delighting farmers market shoppers until approximately June.
While dried morels are available year-round for those in need of a fungi fix, there’s something so decadent about a fresh morel that, in addition to the exquisite flavor, makes the mushroom one of our mid-spring obsessions.
To help us make the most of morel season, we asked fellow mushroom fans Erik Niel, executive chef at Easy Bistro & Bar in Chattanooga, and Easy proprietor Amanda Neil, to share one of their favorite morel recipes. Easy features fresh, seasonally driven French Bistro fare alongside an incredibly innovative cocktail menu served up in a stylish outfit (the restaurant is located in the world’s very first Coca-Cola bottling factory), and one glance at their menu shows they know their way around a mushroom. Below is their recipe for Salmon with Morels, Spinach, and Leeks, which is sure to satisfy our morel cravings.
Salmon with Morels, Spinach, and leeks
2 6oz wild king salmon filets (skin-on)
4 ounces wild morel mushrooms, brushed clean
1⁄2 cup leek whites, sliced
3 cups raw baby spinach
1⁄4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
1. Heat a sauté pan over high heat until hot, then add 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil.
2. Add morels and sauté over high heat for 1 minute.
3. Turn down heat to medium, add the leeks, and continue to sauté for 2 minutes.
4. Add the spinach and turn heat back up to high.
5. As the spinach wilts, add the heavy cream and season well with salt and pepper.
6. Heat a separate non-stick pan over high heat until hot, then add 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil.
7. Season the salmon liberally with kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper.
8. Sauté the salmon skin side down for about a minute.
9. Turn the heat down to medium and continue cooking for 3-4 more minutes, or until the skin is very crisp.
10. Turn the fish over, add 1 tablespoon butter and continue cooking on medium heat until fish reaches desired doneness.
Mound the creamed morels and spinach in a bowl and top with the salmon. Pour any remaining sauce around the fish and enjoy!