Spring Time Delights

Nothing says summer more than fresh strawberries, sweet corn on the cob and ripe peaches. In Canada the summer harvest comes later than the States but I’m already anticipating my first bite of summer – sweet, locally grown Bing cherries.

Before the summer though, there is the spring harvest. This past June there’s been a lush supply of asparagus in the market. I love seeing rows of green asparagus bunches, lined up and standing tall with thick round stems and tight knotty heads. I can’t resist buying them.

I’ve been over-dosing on asparagus for dinner. I roast them in the oven with Warba potatoes, carrots and celery or grill them on homemade pizza with cherry tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms and spinach.

My favorite way of cooking asparagus is stir-frying, as it maximizes on flavor, texture and color.

This spring I discovered another gustatory sensation that was a perfect complement: sautéed wild mushrooms.

Morel and Asparagus stir-fry

One of the advantages of living on the west coast, is access to cultivators and foragers of rare or hard to find foodstuff. I have a Tofino Ucluelet Culinary Guild (TUCG) membership which allows me to purchase goods normally reserved for gourmet restaurants. One of the TUCG suppliers is Ponderosa Mushrooms who specializes in wild mushrooms.

This last month, I’ve been cooking mushrooms that I’d previously only read about. Fresh mushrooms like morels, porcini and shitake.

Typically, morels and porcini are sold in dried form. Long ago, I remember visiting a fine foods market and purchasing a very small, very expensive packet of dried morels. I was so afraid of cooking it, that when I eventually did, they had crumbled into a dry brown dust.

This year, I saw that I could purchase fresh morels through the TUCG. At $10 a pack, they were expensive but less so (I rationalized) than a burger & fries. Healthier, too!

Fresh Morel Mushrooms

Fresh morels look peculiar. They’re dark and woody, with a corrugated shell and a firm texture that softens on cooking. The caps are long and hollow and must be split open then washed thoroughly to remove sand and debris. This step is not be overlooked. I was shocked to see the murky rinse water from the first wash. I had to soak, rinse and drain them four times to get them clean.

To cook, I sautéed them in garlic and butter, deglazed with sherry and seasoned with salt & pepper. It tasted divine. The cooked mushrooms have a meaty texture that’s reminiscent of tender beef steak. It went very well with asparagus and it was much-much better than a burger!

Other mushrooms that I’ve cooked this month:

Portobellos – grilled in portobello and cheese sandwiches

Fresh shitakes – pan fried and added to rissotto

Dried shitakes – rehydrated and stewed in a broth. I keep a jar of these cooked mushrooms in the fridge. It’s a handy and flavorful addition to stir fries, chow mein or braised dishes.

Fresh porcini – sautéed and added to a mixed mushroom omelette

Regular button mushrooms – added to any and everything.

I’m looking forward to the other mushrooms coming into season in the months ahead. I wonder how I’ll cook them? I’ll let you know on my next post for Deb’s and Donna’s What’s On Your Plate challenge.

Mushrooms available from Ponderosa


  1. Such a wonderful & varied selection of mushrooms you have access to! I don’t think I’ve ever come across fresh morels before – even the dried ones are hard to come by! What fun that you get to experiment & cook with them!

    The funkiest mushroom I regularly cook with are King Oysters – not much taste but lots of texture!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. In Singapore I used to buy fresh versions of the dried Chinese mushrooms which are a variety of shitake. They were very tasty when cooked but oh-boy did they smell (not in a good way) when raw.

      Funnily enough, the fresh shitake that I buy in Canada do not smell. They are smaller, milder and had a similar texture, without the smell.

      I know King Oyster mushrooms – they’re a great meat substitute but as you say, you have to add the flavor with sauce.


      1. Oh my goodness! I hear you on the smell! I had forgotten about that till you mentioned it. The new breed of fresh shitakes now mostly don’t smell because they are hydroponically grown. Better for food production but maybe we give up something in taste & experience?

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Mushrooms I have never ever heard of. Amazing. I am with you on the asparagus. We have been growing it this year and amazingly, it has flourished. Who knew it was so easy to grow. The trouble is the doggies often eat it before me! I rather like it fresh out of the garden so never too much to cook with, between me and the dogs. Plus it doesn’t keep for too long. How do you store it, Sandy?

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    1. You can grow asparagus?! I thought it was one of those hard to grow crops. I buy them from the supermarket & store them in fridge in a plastic bag with a damp paper towel. I’ve also tried cutting off the stems and standing them in a jar with a bit of water. I’ve found the trick is really buyign them when they’re fresh & cooking them quick. Not so quick as fresh out of the ground though!


      1. The Moth wanted to give asparagus a go in the home garden. It took almost a year before it started producing crowns and gets large and sprawly, so needs cutting back. After the rainy season, it just kept sprouting, almost daily! Try it!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Many of these mushrooms I wouldn’t be able to get in another part of Canada, not because it doesn’t grow there but because it’s not cultivated for sale.

      Around here in BC, foraging for wild mushrooms in the rainforest is a secret ‘cottage’ industry & you ‘gotta know someone’ to buy them. Even then, I’d think twice about buying from un-authorized sellers. Having access to a commercial supplier thru TUCG is so much safer!

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  3. Hi, Sandy – This is definitely my preferred style of eating. I am envious of your Tofino-Ucluelet Culinary Guild Membership. I am a huge fan of aspargus and either blanch it to add to a veggie platter or roast it in the oven. I will now try stir-frying it. And bing cherries–I have been waiting (im)patiently for them to come into season so that I do not need to pay $10 for a small (under-ripe) handful. 😦 I greatly look forward to your next post with more mushrooms coming available!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I like my asparagus tender crisp with a a little bite, something that I’ve converted my husband to like. He’s used to the french way which is to serve all veggies overcooked and covered with sauce.

      I’m always surprised by the taste of different mushrooms, so I’ll definitely write about them as I try new ones.


    1. When I first tasted aparagus, I remember being underwhelmed but I learned to like it based on different preparations. Eggplant is another veggie that I started out hating but have learned to love.

      Liked by 1 person

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