How to Make the Most of Your Summer Truffles: Recipes for Every Meal
Summer truffles are a gourmet's delight and for good reason. These fragrant, flavorful fungi are beloved by chefs and foodies alike for their unique taste and aroma. If you're lucky enough to get your hands on some summer truffles, you'll want to make the most of them. Here's everything you need to know about these delicious delicacies, from how to use them to where they come from.
What Are Summer Truffles?
Summer truffles (Tuber aestivum) are a type of edible mushroom that grows wild in the forests of Europe and North America. Summer truffles are a delicacy that has been enjoyed for centuries. Often called the "diamond of the kitchen", these fungi have a delicate, yet complex flavor that is prized by chefs and foodies alike. These pungent fungi have a strong, earthy flavor that is unlike any other food item out there. Summer truffles are typically harvested between June and August, which is why they're also known as "spring truffles." While they can be eaten raw, cooked, or preserved, they are most commonly used as a flavor ingredient in dishes like risotto, pasta, and omelets.
History of Summer Truffles
Summer truffles have been prized since ancient times for their unique flavor and culinary versatility. The Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder wrote about these delicious fungi over 2,000 years ago, and they have been featured in artwork dating back to the Renaissance period. They were so prized by the Romans that they were often used as currency!
Today, these delicious fungi are still highly sought-after by gourmands all over the world. While wild summer truffles can be found in forests across Europe and North America, most of the commercially harvested truffles come from Italy and France.
In more recent history, summer truffles were once only available to the wealthy upper class who could afford their high price tag. However, Thanks to advances in transportation and agriculture, summer truffles are now more widely available and can be found in gourmet grocery stores and online retailers. If you're lucky enough to find some fresh summer truffles at your local farmers market or specialty store, snatch them up quickly! These delectable fungi are only available for a limited time each year.
How to Use Summer Truffles
There are three main ways to use summer truffles: fresh, preserved, or cooked.
- Fresh summer truffles: These should be used within two days of being picked. To prepare them for use, gently brush away any dirt with a soft brush—you don't want to wash them because they're very porous and will absorb water. Then, using a sharp knife, slice or shave the truffle thinly and add it to your dish just before serving.
- Preserved summer truffles: These will last for up to six months. The most common way to preserve them is in oil—simply place them in a jar or container and cover them with extra-virgin olive oil. You can also preserve them in salt by covering them with dry salt or making a brine solution (equal parts water and salt). Finally, you can pickle them in vinegar by soaking them in vinegar for 24 hours before storing them in a sealed container.
- To cook with summer truffles: slice or shave them thinly and sauté in butter until lightly browned. Add them to pasta dishes, risotto, omelets, scrambled eggs, potatoes au gratin, vegetable gratins, polenta dishes, or rice dishes. You can also stuff them into chicken breasts before cooking or wrap them in bacon before grilling.
Risotto with Porcini Mushrooms and Truffled Pecorino Cheese
Here is a delicious recipe that highlights the flavors of truffles in your dish which is also paired along with some beautiful ingredients like porcini mushrooms and pecorino cheese.
-1 ounce dry porcini mushrooms
-1/4 cup olive oil
-1 onion, finely chopped
-2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
-1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
-1/2 cup white wine
-4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
-1 ounce fresh summer truffle, thinly sliced
-1/4 cup grated Pecorino cheese
-Salt and pepper to taste
- Soak the porcini mushrooms in warm water for 30 minutes.
- In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
- Add the onion and garlic and simmer for about 5 minutes, or until tender.
- Add the rice and cook, stirring frequently, until the grains are evenly coated with oil and begin to turn opaque about 3 minutes.
- Add the white wine and cook until absorbed for about 2 minutes.
- Drain the porcini mushrooms and add them to the pan along with the chicken or vegetable stock. Bring to a simmer and cook until the rice is tender and the liquid is absorbed about 20 minutes.
- Stir in the truffle slices and grated Pecorino cheese and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.
Summer truffles are a delicious addition to any dish—but they're also somewhat of a rarity. If you're lucky enough to come across some during their short season (June-August), make sure to take advantage! Now that you know everything there is to know about how to use summer truffles, it's time to get cooking! Any dish will be elevated with the addition of these luxurious fungi. Try adding shaved truffles to your next omelet or carbonara for an extra-special treat. Buon appetito!