Foraging to feasting: A small primer on field to food for this spring of morels

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Here’s the plate, built off foraging a 5-inch morel: a clam-stuffed morel with homegrown organic early greens and spinach, wild asparagus, garlic-bread points and merlot.
Dale Bowman/Sun-Times

It’s been a most memorable spring for morel mushrooms around Chicago outdoors. Some readers found found their first; some, their biggest. I found my biggest Friday. At more than 5 inches, it anchored a feast.

A morel mushroom, longer than 5 inches, is the biggest one ever found by Dale Bowman.<br>Dale bBowman/Sun-Times

A morel mushroom, longer than 5 inches, is the biggest one ever found by Dale Bowman.
Dale bBowman/Sun-Times

Gretchen Steele, a photographer/wild woman from far southern Illinois, suggested a crab-stuffed recipe, which I tweaked to what I had.

First, I hit my surest spot for wild asparagus. Somebody had cut ahead of me, but I found a couple good stalks.

Cut wild asparagus arranged on a dandelion.<br>Dale Bowman/Sun-Times

Cut wild asparagus arranged on a dandelion.
Dale Bowman/Sun-Times

Back home, I browned bread crumbs in butter and garlic, then added drained clams. Meanwhile I toasted garlic bread points. In the butter/garlic pan, I added chopped asparagus, then drizzled in clam juice.

I stuffed the halved cleaned morel to overflowing with the clam/breading mix, then browned it under the broiler. While it rested, I cut organic early greens and spinach, which I planted the first day in March warm enough to cut two rows into thawing soil.

An early-afternoon glass of merlot completed the feast. The garlic-bread points worked perfectly at catching every last crumb.

Below I included photos of the morel and wild asparagus in the field to show what you have to sense as much as see to find.

Even a 5-inch morel mushroom may be hard to see in the field.<br>Dale Bowman/Sun-Times

Even a 5-inch morel mushroom may be hard to see in the field.
Dale Bowman/Sun-Times

It is not easy to spot the growing wild asparagus in the field, let alone the previously cut stalks; both are in this photo.<br>Dale Bowman/Sun-Times

It is not easy to spot the growing wild asparagus in the field, let alone the previously cut stalks; both are in this photo.
Dale Bowman/Sun-Times

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