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Morels Stuffed with Spinach, Ricotta, Parmesan, and Pine Nuts
From Mushroom, by Johnny Acton and Nick Sandler

This mild, nutty dish of stuffed morels on a pool of spinach sauce makes one of the most glamorous appetizers imaginable. Since the morels are used whole, check them thoroughly for insects and dirt! [In the photo, they are sliced in half so that the stuffing is visible.]

Ingredients:

16 to 20 medium morels
14 ounces spinach blanched for 2 minutes in a large pot of boiling water, then drained and sprayed with cool water, squeezed out over a colander, and finely chopped
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup chicken stock
Salt and ground black pepper
Nutmeg
A heaped cup leek julienne (cut into very thin matchsticks)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
1-1/4 cups Ricotta
3/4 cup grated Parmesan
2 heaped tablespoons pine nuts, toasted dry in a pan for a few minutes over medium heat until slightly browned
1 Tbsp chopped parsley

Instructions:

Trim off the morel stalks flush with the head, leaving an opening into the cavity.

For the sauce, take a handful of the chopped spinach and place in the blender along with the cream and chicken stock. (All the ingredients should be cold.) Add a little salt and pepper, grate in a little nutmeg, and blend until smooth. Reserve in a small saucepan.

Fry the leeks and garlic in half the olive oil over a very low heat for 5 to 10 minutes, until soft. Place in a medium-sized bowl and let cool. Combine the leeks with the Ricotta, Parmesan, most of the pine nuts, salt, pepper, the remainder of the spinach, and the parsley.

Carefully spoon or pipe the mixture into the morels, then place them on a baking tray, brush with the remainder of the olive oil, season, and cook in the oven at 425F (220C) for 15 to 20 minutes. Heat up the spinach sauce and spread on warmed plates. Place 4 to 5 morels on top and garnish with the remainder of the pine nuts.

Yield: Serves 4

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