Sarah Wallace reported that her Pine Knob Pasta sold out within two hours of the market’s opening. An e-mail I received from Sherry Henney confirmed her pasta is selling well, too. Until these ladies can ramp up their production, their pasta may remain a precious commodity on market days, akin to Dave Nance’s hydroponic tomatoes and Wild Bee Honey Farm organic strawberries.
When you do get your hands on some, pair it with the best of the season. One of my favorite additions, covered at least once a year in this blog, are wild mushrooms from Mushrooms All Year. Morels are in full flush right now and delicious in any dish.
Yet I’ve been leaning more toward porcini. The fresh ones are available at least until Fourth of July, says forager Louis Jeandin. These meaty fungi can be handled like portobellos in the kitchen. I grilled some thick slices last week and then put them on a grilled pizza with garlic-scape pesto and grilled greens (yep, I covered the grate in whole kale leaves and let them wilt before chopping them up and topping the pizza).
Don’t even think about removing the porcini’s greenish gills, though. When I sauteed the rest in some butter to enjoy with polenta and a poached egg, they exuded a savory, almost livery flavor that stands up to other distinctive foods. Needless to say, I bought more this week.
If it’s a more pedestrian mushroom you have on hand, consider this moussaka-inspired lasagna I made for Mother’s Day with Wallace’s fresh lasagna sheets. I sauteed a good pound of button mushrooms with an onion and some garden-fresh greens. Once that had cooked, I deglazed the pan with a little Marsala wine and mooshed up some home-canned tomatoes drained of their juice into the veggies.
In a separate pan, I browned some ground lamb and spiked it with red-pepper flakes, cinnamon and allspice. Then I made a bechamel sauce enriched with Gorgonzola cheese, simply because that was in my fridge. You could also use goat cheese, pecorino or Parmesan to flavor the sauce.
I coated my baking pan’s bottom with a good cup of sauce, then laid in the noodles and layered them with a little herb-infused ricotta and my meat and veggie fillings, topping the whole thing with the remaining sauce and some grated pecorino. This dish took about 35 minutes to bake in a 375-degree oven.
The great thing about fresh lasagna sheets, Wallace’s included, is that you don’t have to boil them beforehand for a casserole like this. You just take them straight from package to pan. Plenty of sauce cooks them right where they are.
I do wish, however, that Wallace put more in the package. “Pasta” Dave Deichler’s version had three 9-by-13-inch sheets perfect for one lasagna. Wallace provides enough pasta for basically two layers. Two of her packages would make a deeper lasagna.
I’ve made other “white” lasagnas like this with a mixture of wild mushrooms and fresh asparagus, also in good supply at the growers market. Check our online guide for availability of other produce.