Wahoo!!! I went to the local specialty grocery store today and there they were…Morels – GAME ON. As if I didn’t have enough reasons to love Spring, morels just bring me GREAT HAPPINESS! I am trying to think what might be a better scenario: my community garden friend Dave found out that I am infatuated with Jerusalem artichokes (sunchokes) and brought me some from the M.S.U farmers; so that was my starting point. I wanted to do something other than stewing them, so I thought I would brown them and include them in a pasta recipe. While I don’t quite have basil available in my own garden, it has been looking beautiful in the stores, so I decided I must incorporate it. And then it happened…I spotted the morels in the store. My kids have always loved my standard creamy pesto with chicken and broccoli over pasta recipe, so I figured I’d just amp it up a bit. Time wise, this is a viable weeknight recipe (I picked up my daughter from LAX at 6:15, got home at 6:40, and served dinner at 7:45 – I even unloaded the dishwasher). If you have time, make homemade pasta; I didn’t have the luxury, so I bought a good quality Spinach Papareadelle.
- 3/4 Cup Fresh Basil
- 1/2 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese (plus additional for sprinkling)
- 3 TBS. Pine Nuts
- 2 Garlic Cloves
- 1/3 Cup Olive Oil + 2 TBS.
- 1 Cup Heavy Cream
- 3 TBS. Unsalted Butter
- 8 Oz. Ricotta Cheese
- 1/3+ Cup Chicken Stock/Broth
- 3 Chicken Breast – trimmed and thinly sliced (freeze for a couple hours to make cutting thinly easier)
- 1.5 Cups Jerusalem Arthichokes (Sunchokes) cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- 1- 1.5 Cups Morel mushrooms – thickly sliced
- 12 Oz. Spinach Pasta (plain would be fine as well)
Prepare the pesto sauce: put basil leaves, 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, pine nuts, and garlic cloves in a blender or food processor. Process until all ingredients are well chopped. With machine running, (medium) drizzle in olive oil and blend until olive oil is fully incorporated. Add more oil if necessary. Season with salt and pepper; set aside.
In a large pot, heat water for pasta. In the meantime, heat 2 TBS. olive oil in a large saute pan. When oil is hot, add Jerusalem artichokes and brown on all sides (or at least two). Reduce heat to medium, add chicken stock to pan (enough to at least cover bottom of pan so Jerusalem artichokes can simmer/steam), cover saucepan and simmer for another 15 minutes (checking to make sure there is still liquid in the pan). In the meantime, heat cream and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat (do not allow to boil or scald). When heated through, add pesto and keep warm over low heat. Cook pasta according to directions, reserving about 1 cup of pasta water. After Jerusalem artichokes have simmered for 15 minutes, check to see that they are tender but still firm (if not, continue to cook for a few additional minutes). Add chicken to saute pan with Jerusalem artichokes, increase heat if necessary. Saute chicken until cooked through. Add sliced morels and saute for another two or three minutes – just until tender. Turn off heat, add ricotta to pan, mix until melted and incorporated. Add creamy pesto sauce to pan. If too thin, add more ricotta; if too thick, add a little pasta water. Taste for seasoning, add salt and pepper if necessary. Serve prepared sauce over pasta, add additional Parmesan cheese if desired.