It’s late winter – that time of the year when we’ve all had enough of cold weather and are ready for spring to hurry up and get here.
It’s also the time when the last mushrooms of winter coincide with the very earliest spring produce. Fresh asparagus is everywhere, even though spring is officially still weeks away. How fortunate for us to be able to enjoy the happy marriage of pretty little yellowfoot mushrooms and crisp, slender stalks of asparagus!
We’ve called this dish a “quesadilla,” since that’s a word that is familiar to most of us. Made with soft, easy-melting cheese and flour tortillas, it closely resembles a Mexican quesadilla, but contains no chile peppers, salsa or any of the usual spices. It’s really more like a sort of savory crepe, filled with buttery-nutty yellowfoot mushrooms, tender-crisp asparagus and peppery arugula, all united by the creamy goodness of gooey melted cheese.
While you can use any wild mushroom for this preparation, we’ve chosen yellowfoot mushrooms, since they’re one of the most dependable of late winter mushrooms – and they just happen to be one of our favorites. Take one look at the yellowfoot mushroom (Craterellus tubaeformis) with their long, slender strikingly orange-yellow stems and you’ll understand how they got their common name. One of the most cold-tolerant of wild mushrooms, the tenacious yellowfoot shrugs off freezing temperatures and even moderately heavy snowfalls with no ill effects.
Yellowfoot mushrooms are too often relegated to the status as a second-string substitute for chanterelles, but that does them a great disservice. Surprisingly robust in flavor, with distinctive floral and peppery notes, the sprightly yellowfoot is worth appreciating in its own right. Sauteeing in butter or olive oil until lightly browned is all that’s needed to bring out every bit of the yellowfoot’s nutty, woodsy flavor.
One last thing; don’t skip the arugula. The spicy kick and lively taste of fresh arugula provide the ideal counterpoint to the mild mushrooms, asparagus and cheese, resulting in a perfect harmony of flavors.
Wild Mushroom, Asparagus & Arugula Quesadilla
Our basic recipe makes ONE quesadilla, enough for a single person as a light meal or for 2 – 4 people as an appetizer. Just double, triple or quadruple the recipe to feed more hungry mouths!
Use any soft-melting cheese, such as Swiss, mozzarella, Monterey Jack or try our favorite, Muenster. Have all of your ingredients prepped and ready to go before you begin cooking the quesadillas. Once you begin, things go very fast – about 5 minutes from start to finish.
- 4 oz fresh wild mushrooms, such as yellowfoot, black trumpets or chanterelles
- 1 tsp butter
- salt & pepper to taste
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 large flour tortilla
- 1/4 cup grated cheese (see above for suggested types)
- 6 – 8 spears asparagus, steamed or microwaved to tender-crisp
- 1/4 cup arugula, washed and patted dry
Clean the mushrooms by brushing away any dirt or forest debris, or if especially dirty, rinse quickly under cold running water, drain well and gently blot up excess moisture with paper towels.
Melt the butter in a non-stick pan over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot and the butter is sizzling, add the mushrooms. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushroom liquid (there may be a lot) has evaporated. Reduce the heat to medium and continue to cook for a few more minutes, until the mushrooms have browned slightly. Remove from the heat and set aside momentarily.
Heat a griddle or large non-stick pan to medium high. When hot, add the olive oil and place a tortilla on the griddle, moving it around to make sure the bottom is evenly coated with the oil. Sprinkle the grated cheese over the top of the entire tortilla quickly, making sure that it reaches the edges.
Arrange the cooked asparagus spears on one half of the tortilla, cutting them to fit if necessary. Spoon most of the cooked mushrooms over the asparagus spears, reserving a few for garnish. When the bottom of the tortilla is golden-brown and beginning to crisp, but is still pliable, sprinkle the arugula over the mushrooms and asparagus, then, using a spatula, fold the tortilla in half so that the edges meet neatly.
Press the top half down gently, but firmly with the spatula. Slide the quesadilla onto a cutting board and cut into 4 wedges. Sprinkle more cooked mushrooms over the top and serve immediately.
Many of the ingredients used in this recipe, and other recipes on the Earthy Delights Blog, can be purchased online at our retail website, Earthy.com. We welcome you to visit the Earthy.com website to view our extensive selection of hard-to-find ingredients and our complete Recipe Collection of over 500 tested recipes.
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