Chicken Sausage and Morels, Crostata and Strawberries and Cream

Despite many attempts at cultivation, morels remain one of the few species of wild things humans must still forage for. One thing known for sure is they prefer sites where the soil contains ash from a fire. In 18th century Germany, authorities banned the practice of setting intentional fires to swaths of forest which were set to encourage morel growth. One too many fires got out of hand! Here in the Pacific Northwest, as one record fire season rubs up against another, the only silver lining may be the crop of morels that pop up.

The appearance of the morel is distinctive from a traditional mushroom. Instead of a cap, it has an upright oblong body that is vaguely honeycombed and attached to a sturdy short stem. These odd fungi might be deemed homely, were their flavor not so prized. When cooked the texture of morel is like tender steak, the flavor faintly sweet and earthy.

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We celebrate morel season with our Chicken Sausage and Morel seasonal pizza but leave the hunting to our friends at Foraged & Found who keep us supplied for the duration of this seasonal. The Chicken Sausage and Morel pizza features Isernio's all-natural chicken sausage, a blend of morel and crimini mushrooms, mozzarella, and our seasoned tomato sauce. Enjoy it while you can.

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Our other seasonal, the Crostata, is our ode to the Walla Walla onion, Washington State's official state vegetable. The onions are celebrated across the country for their mild and sweet flavor and only available in the summer. The low sulfur of the fertile sandy soil of the Walla Walla region and the hot days and cool nights are what makes the onions unique. For our Crostata, we caramelize the Walla Walla's to a rich buttery sweetness, layer them over an olive oil base, and then top the pie with a blend of gorgonzola, mozzarella, and fontina cheese.

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After you've had your fill of pizza, there may be no better way to finish off your evening than a pint of Strawberries and Cream gelato. Gelatiamo turns flats of just-picked Skagit Valley strawberries into a naturally tart strawberry sorbet specked with fresh strawberries. The next step is to swirl the sorbet with ribbons of silky sweet cream. It's the gelato rendition of just-picked garden strawberries topped with whipped cream. Enjoy these summery seasonals through July 10.