Victoria Petersen / Peninsula Clarion                                 Morel pasta is enjoyed outside on May 19, 2019, near Kenai.

Victoria Petersen / Peninsula Clarion Morel pasta is enjoyed outside on May 19, 2019, near Kenai.

Kalifornsky Kitchen: Morels all the ways

When the Swan Lake Fire started, we knew we had an opportunity to get even more morels.

Morel mushrooms are being found and picked in the Kenai National Wildlife refuge by the bagful.

The savory mushrooms are best cooked fresh in a variety of ways, but especially with simple ingredients like butter or eggs. If you have managed to fill your fridge with the delicate fungi or just got a handful from a lucky friend, you can make meals so good you’ll be thinking about them until you can explore the burn area again next spring. That’s what happened to me at least.

Last summer, exploring a previous burn area off Skilak Lake Road, some friends and I found eight morel mushrooms. Enough to make a great dinner with. On our way home we talked about how we wanted to eat them that night, and the consensus was pasta. Always extra, my boyfriend and I decided to impress our friends by pulling out the pasta attachment for our KitchenAid and make some fresh fettuccine. The noodles cooked quickly, but we dressed them simply like carbonara, with butter, egg and cheese, with the mushrooms cooking amongst the flavors.

We ate our pasta with beer in the backyard on the picnic table. It was decadent. When the Swan Lake Fire started, we knew we had an opportunity to get even more morels and we talked about it all winter.

Last week, after hiking deep into burn areas south of Cooper Landing, we found nothing but footprints. After hours of walking through ash and over trees burnt black and crisp, I felt defeated.

Luckily, the next day, we hit the Farmers’ Market in Anchorage, where a vendor sells morels from the valley. We got the morels, the easy way. My aunt and uncle generously gave us some they found in the refuge too, along with some that were dehydrated and some finely crushed morel powder that will add a savory umami flavor to anything it seasons.

Pasta sounds good, but I feel paralyzed by the possibilities of my unexpected morel haul. I think we plan to just enjoy them simply, in butter or in eggs, maybe lightly fried. If I’m feeling really ambitious, maybe I’ll make pasta again. It was so good last time.

A savory, buttery morel pasta

This dish is decadent. Using fresh pasta makes it all the more decadent, but isn’t necessary. It’s not too hard if you want to try it and have a pasta machine.

Fresh pasta (if using)


2 cups flour

2 whole eggs

4 egg yolks


1. Pour flour into a pile inside a large mixing bowl. Dig a well into the center of the pile and pour the egg and yolks into the center of the well.

2. Take a fork and start mixing the eggs, slowly incorporating flour into the egg mixture. Do this until the flour and eggs are mixing together into a shaggy dough.

3. With clean hands, begin to knead and press the dough together to create one mass of dough. If needed, add another yolk to help incorporate.

4. Once the dough is single mass, knead it on a lightly floured surface for several minutes, or until the dough is smooth and elastic. Wrap the dough in plastic and set it aside for half an hour in a room temperature spot.

5. Set up the pasta machine and flour the surface of your counter or several baking sheets to line the cut pasta on.

6. When the dough has rested long enough, unwrap it and flatten it out with the palm of your hand so it can fit into the rollers of the pasta machine. On the widest setting, begin to roll the pasta through the rollers. Take the dough and fold the two ends back into the center like a piece of paper being folded into thirds. Drive the dough through the rollers two more times, repeating the folding.

7. Once the dough has been pressed and folded three times, you can begin to roll out the dough, decreasing the width of the rollers, until the sufficient pasta thickness is achieved. I like to stop when I can see my hand shape through the pasta.

8. Once the pasta is thin enough, process the sheet of dough through pasta cutters on the fettuccine setting, or cut long strips from the sheet by hand using a knife or pizza cutter. Dust the fresh pasta with flour so the dough doesn’t stick to the pasta or the surface.

9. Fresh pasta cooks quickly in salted boiling water, just a couple minutes. Cook until the pasta is just barely cooked, extremely al dente. Have the sauce in the sauce pan ready on low heat to continue cooking the pasta in the sauce.

Mushroom pasta


2 eggs

2 egg yolks

1/3 cup of grated pecorino cheese

black pepper to taste

2 tablespoons of butter

A good handful of morel mushrooms, however many you want (we used eight small ones)

Pasta, one third of the fresh pasta made or a 12 ounce box of pasta


1. In a mixing bowl, whip together the eggs, yolks and cheese. Season with a pinch of salt and black pepper.

2. In a large skillet, heat the butter over medium/low heat and saute the mushrooms until they are tender and browned. Remove from the heat and set aside until it’s time to add the al dente pasta to the skillet, reserving 1 cup of pasta water.

3. Over low heat, stir the pasta into the buttery morel mix for about a minute, or until the pasta is reasonably coated. Turn the heat off and take the skillet off the heat.

4. Slowly add the egg and cheese mixture to the pasta while mixing and incorporating it into the pasta. Add some of the reserved pasta water for added creaminess. Serve with more pecorino and grated pepper and serve immediately.

More in Life

Scrambled Eggs A La Escoffier (Photo by Tressa Dale)
Scrambled eggs the Escoffier way

For the last few months of culinary school, my class was given… Continue reading

Will Morrow (courtesy)
Once bitten

Just keep moving. For some people, it might be a mantra for… Continue reading

Joan Brown Dodd, left, and Doug Dodd pose for a photo at the Homer News on Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2018, in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
‘Hero Unaware’ based on author’s compilation of father’s war correspondence.

Letters home span the entire length of World War II from a Navy corpsman’s perspective.

Mindful ramen. (Photo by Tressa Dale/For the Clarion)
Take guilt off menu with mindful ramen

I do a lot of preaching about healthy eating, but I have… Continue reading

Bonnie Marie Playle (file)
July Musings

July is the seventh month, and is called “Dog Days” because it’s… Continue reading

2007 photo by Clark Fair 
Sometimes called “Murder House” in the years after the killing, this dilapidated Quonset hut was the scene of the crime.
A killing close to home

By Clark Fair For the Peninsula Clarion We all hope we live… Continue reading

The stage for "Grounded" is seen inside of the Kenai Performers’ black box theatre on Monday, March 15 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Presenting Little Mermaid

Kenai Performers youth drama camp takes center stage

This rich Parmesan risotto makes a creamy base for mushrooms and kale. Photographed July 10, 2021, in Nikiski, Alaska. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
Kale salad? Not so much

A cream risotto makes an indulgent base for the nutritional green

Virginia Walters (Courtesy photo)
Life in the Pedestrian Lane: The generations … my how they flow by

It has been over 20 years since we had a 1-year-old in the house for any extended period of time.

This orange Julius swaps out the traditional egg whites with sweetened condensed milk, for a tangy and safe summer treat. Photographed July 4, 2021, in Nikiski, Alaska. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
On the strawberry patch: Adding some orange to the red, white and blue

A quintessentially American drink cools off any Fourth of July celebration.

Nick Varney (courtesy)
Flying fish and lead. Oh my!

Homer can become rather rowdy at times.

Pottery is on display on Wednesday, June 30, 2021, at the Kenai Art Center, which is reopening on Thursday for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, in Kenai, Alaska. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
‘The more we get together’

Kenai Art Center celebrates reopening with work from Potters’ Guild