Fricassee helps make the most of morels



May is morel season. The cute cone-shaped mushrooms pop up every spring in forests and orchards when the days get to a perfect combination of warmth and moisture.

I love to celebrate the return of these miraculous mushrooms with a simple morel saute, or fricassee, flavored with ham and herbs.

Carol Mighton Haddix is food editor of the Chicago Tribune, which provided the recipe and analysis.

Morel Fricassee With Ham and Herbs

Serves 4 -- Total time: 30 minutes

2 tablespoons olive oil or butter

1 sweet onion, sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup cooked, slivered ham or Canadian bacon

8 ounces fresh morels or other wild mushrooms, halved, brushed clean (see note)

1/2 cup chicken broth

1/4 cup whipping cream (optional)

3 tablespoons minced herbs, such as thyme, tarragon or dill

1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)

freshly ground pepper

cooked pasta, rice, polenta or couscous

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat; add onion. Cook, stirring often, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and ham. Cook, stirring often, 1 minute.

Add mushrooms and chicken broth. Cook, stirring often, 3 minutes. Stir in cream and herbs. Cook over low heat until slightly thickened, 3 minutes. Add salt if needed, and pepper to taste. Serve over pasta.

Note: If fresh morels are not in season, use 1 package (1 ounce) dried morels. To rehydrate, cover in boiling water; set aside 20 minutes.

Per serving (not including pasta): 169 calories, 10 grams fat, 2 grams saturated fat, 32 milligrams cholesterol, 7 grams carbohydrate, 13 grams protein, 123 milligrams sodium, 2 grams fiber

Menu suggestion

Morel fricassee with ham and herbs

Cooked pasta

Pan-grilled radicchio

Rhubarb fool

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