Like spring: Royal Trumpets, Asparagus and New Potatoes

I was pushing the cart around the vast islands of produce at the grocery store the other day, knowing I would incite a full scale revolt if I brought any more kale into the house. Sometimes it is overwhelming, wanting to try something new and having no idea what it should be – especially towards the end of winter. There just aren’t a lot of choices in early spring in the PNW.  Anyway, staring out over the vast expertly displayed mountains of mostly green crinkly leaves (those winter stalwarts—kale, chard, escarole), there beyond that, the mushroom display. Chanterelles!?! Love them. Nope. That’s fall. Then I saw these:

Royal Trumpet Mushrooms

 

Hmm. They look a little like this Swedish type called Karljohan which I have always wanted to try. Royal trumpet mushrooms are handsome. Creamy large fungi clustered with smaller, sometimes tiny, versions of themselves, they sport a broad cappuccino colored cap. Royal trumpets look like storybook mushrooms. Suddenly, I imagined them cut in rough pieces, their edges sizzling and caramelizing in butter. The fresh loamy scent transformed, intensified, browned and buttery, and scattered with crystals of seasalt and scented with black pepper. I put half a pound in a paper bag and trolled on. On the opposite bank were slim green spears of asparagus. So spring-ish! Popped them in the cart. On the other side of the large wooden crate, a heap of small purple plastic mesh bags of tiny new potatoes, the largest potato no bigger than those shooter sized marbles. Yes. Done.

The thing is, I know none of these vegetables are seasonal here in Seattle – not at this time, in March, except maybe the potatoes. Those I think were from Oregon. But I didn’t care. Not this week. I am so ready for spring!

Royal Trumpets, Asparagus and New Potatoes

  • 1/2 lb Royal Trumpet Mushrooms, wiped clean and cut into 3/4″ pieces
  • 1/2 lb Asparagus, thin as pencils, snapped into 1 1/2″ lengths
  • 1/2 lb tiny potatoes, peeled
  • 1 1/2 tbsp butter
  • 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Here’s where I had trouble deciding whether or not to include this recipe at Notes on Dinner. I have this incredible gadget that my mother-in-law brought me from Sweden. Can you guess what it is?

This is a Swedish potato peeler although if you guessed a salad spinner you wouldn’t have been far wrong. It does have another basket that fits inside and it can dry lettuces too. I really hate to write about specialized equipment and it does seem especially unfair given that these potato peelers are nearly impossible to buy outside of Sweden, or in the U.S. anyway. You put the potatoes in the bowl, then fill the bowl with water and turn the handle quickly. The centrifugal force flings the potatoes against the sides and the tiny sharp ridges sand away the delicate skins of small potatoes. The water washes their grubby little skins away.

It is only 1/2 a pound of potatoes. So…

  1. Put the potatoes in a saucepan and cover them with water. Heat until boiling then add 1 tsp sea salt. Simmer until just done. If the potatoes are really quite small this could take no more than 10 minutes. Start checking at 8 though, just to be safe. When the potatoes are done drain them, and set aside.
  2. In a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat, melt the butter with the olive oil.
  3. Add the mushroom pieces and the potatoes, stirring every minute or two until they are light golden brown all over.
  4. Add the asparagus and continue to stir until it is crisp-tender and also, if you look carefully, lightly browned.
  5. Add sea salt and black pepper until it tastes delicious. (I would start with 1/2 tsp of salt and add 1/8 tsp increments until it is just right for you.)

I served this with that Tom Douglas fish recipe I wrote about months ago. This time I used cod, though, which was really so much better than the halibut I used last time. The finished recipe has this mild heat and lemony edge which I loved alongside those nutty forest-y mushrooms and potatoes. The parsley salad was the icing on the cake, so to speak. If you are curious, my kids loved this dinner. One of the very best. (They did, however, skip the parsley salad.)

 

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