Spring Pea Pesto Bucatini with Morrells, Ricotta and Capers

The ultimate spring pasta dish: a balance of umami, salty and bright.


Spring Pea Pesto Bucatini with Ricotta and Capers

Sometimes a recipe simply comes together. When we make these monthly menu recipes for the blog, sometimes we go into the process with a really clear vision of specific recipes. And then sometimes, it's more of a 'feel' for a recipe with a 'Eh, let's see what we find while we're out" attitude. I know. We are wild and crazy, life by the seat of your pants people. Who just goes to the market and sees what looks good? (Everyone else in the world mostly). Anyway, for this recipe in particular I knew I was craving bucatini. I knew I wanted to do some sort of herb and cheese blend that involved peas. But beyond that it was whatever. Something about the farmers market offerings right now just made this dish a million times better. There were morrells (special mushrooms...not "special" mushrooms). There were chive blossoms. I just bought shit. I was going to figure it out later. My name is Carlene, and I'm an impulse shopper at the farmers market. Also at plant nurseries. And cat adoption locations. 

Spring Pea Pesto Bucatini with Ricotta and Capers

It's not even that morrells are something I personally get excited about, but it's more a novelty seeing them in real life for me. When my parents first bought their 40 acres with woods and rolling hills nearly 20 years ago, they SWORE up and down they found morrells that first year. And the three kids were like "prove it". And for the next 17 years we never saw a morrell. So for me to stumble upon them at the market, I was like BUYING TO SHOW OFF TO MY PARENTS. And then my Mom told me, she also found one on the property that weekend. Go figure. 

But if you're especially interested in the cool things about nature and growing, Mom told me there's an old farmer's thought that when the tulip poplar tree blossoms start to shed their coatings, it's time for morrells. And that happened. So she's either really pulling my leg and has been about this morrell business for the past 17 years, or the Virginia morrell gods were like "Okay Karen, really prove your daughter wrong". 

Spring Pea Pesto Bucatini with Ricotta and Capers
Spring Pea Pesto Bucatini with Ricotta and Capers
Spring Pea Pesto Bucatini with Ricotta and Capers

Beyond being, in my opinion, a stunning dish (come on, you would be so bad ass if you just laid this down at a dinner), it's very easy to make. Really, this is just compiling ingredients after you make pesto with peas and cook mushrooms with butter. That said, it is important to really get all the ingredients for this pasta. It's our philosophy to make it worth it when a recipe is simple, and sometimes that means a few more ingredients than 'easy'. Capers, for example, are SO NEEDED. The pop of briney salt is really enjoyable. The chive flowers? Pretty, but also intensely oniony and nice against ricotta. Lemon? Brightness and balance. We found ourselves really craving each part of this dish in every bite. And that's the mark of a good recipe: when you want everything.


morrell mushrooms
spring pea pesto bucatini with morrells, ricotta and capers

Spring Pea Pesto Bucatini with Ricotta and Capers

Serves 4

/// Ingredients ///

  • 1 1/2 cups fresh peas (cooked in boiling water 2 minutes)

  • 1 T minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesean cheese
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon, zest about 1/3 of it
  • 1 cup packed basil leaves
  • 1 cup packed flat leaf parsley
  • whole milk ricotta
  • black pepper
  • extra squeeze and zest of lemon
  • 1 pound bucatini
  • 1/8 cup capers
  • 4 large morrells 
  • 1 T butter
  • chive flowers 

/// Directions /// To make pea pesto, cook peas in boiling water for 2 minutes and strain. In a food processor add peas, garlic, pine nuts, parmesan cheese, salt, lemon juice, and herbs. Pulse to combine. Pour olive oil through the top of the food processor and pulse. Scrape sides to make sure ingredients are blended (not smooth-pesto is slightly chunky!). 

Cook morrells after cleaning (brush, check holes/ruffles for bugs, chop off dirty end-cut in half). Heat butter in a pan and sear each side of the morrell over medium high heat. You're going for nicely browned, NOT crunchy.

Cook pasta per package instructions. Toss with olive oil once drained and use forks to twirl into piles in the large patter/bowl. 

To plate, place dollops of ricotta and pea pesto amidst the pasta. To with morrells, capers, chive blossoms and lemon zest with an extra squeeze of lemon.  Top with black pepper.

spring pea pesto bucatini with morrells, ricotta and capers

Dietitian Nutritionist. My husband Chris and I create food and beverage photos, videos, stopmotions and recipes. And they're really cool.