Baked Casarecce in Mascarpone Cheese Sauce with Morels, Grilled Kale and Lemon Oil

Recipe courtesy of Chef Jay Perry.

Chef Jay Perry prepares this elegant recipe for the students at Oregon State University. Make-ahead flavor-boosters like the lemon oil and mushroom powder add additional depth to the dish.

7 1/2 ounces dried shiitake mushrooms
5 cups extra-virgin olive oil
20 lemons, zested
kosher salt
18 ounces unsalted butter
5 ounces whole morel mushrooms, cleaned
3 3/4 pounds Barilla Casarecce
2 cups canola oil
1 1/4 pounds minced leeks
5 ounces minced garlic
1 1/4 pounds fresh morel mushrooms, sliced 1/4 inch thick
15 cups heavy cream
5 tablespoons vegetable base
2 1/2 pounds mascarpone cheese
30 ounces shredded gruyere cheese
3 tablespoons salt
2 1/2 teaspoons pepper
10 sprigs fresh thyme, minced
3 1/8 pound lacinato kale
5 cups panko bread crumbs
10 ounces shredded parmesan cheese
  1. Make the mushroom powder: Spread the dried shiitakes on a sheet pan and bake for 10 minutes in a 325-degree oven. Grind the mushrooms to a powder.
  2. Make the lemon oil: Working in batches, blend the oil and lemon zest with a pinch of salt in a high-speed blender to emulsify. Refrigerate until service.
  3. Make the morel garnish: In a large pan, melt 10 ounces butter and saute the whole morels until slightly tender. Add water as needed to help braise.
  4. Cook the Barilla pasta for half the time indicated on the package. Drain pasta and drizzle with some olive oil to prevent from sticking. Place pasta flat on sheet trays or hotel pans and cool in a blast chiller. Alternatively, cool it down in a walk-in cooler. Store in zip lock bags or sealed plastic container; refrigerate and use within several hours.
  5. Make the cheese sauce: Heat 8 ounces butter and 4 ounces canola oil in a large saucepan. Saute the leeks and garlic until translucent. Add the sliced morels and saute until tender. Stir in the cream and vegetable base and reduce the liquid by half. Do not let it boil. Whisk in the shiitake mushroom powder.
  6. Off the heat or over a double boiler, whisk in the mascarpone and gruyere to melt. Season with the salt and pepper and thyme. Set aside.
  7. Toss the kale with 8 ounces canola oil. Grill the kale for 1 minute on each side to slightly char and mark it. Chop it into 1/2-inch dice.
  8. Stir the pasta and three-fourths of the kale into the cheese sauce until well combined. Spray two deep hotel pans with oil and divide the pasta mixture between them. Smooth the surfaces, cover with parchment, and foil and bake at 325 degrees for 20 minutes.
  9. In a bowl, combine the panko, 4 ounces canola oil, the remaining kale, and the parmesan.
  10. For each serving, to order: Cut a square and top it with some of the panko mixture. Reheat the pasta in the oven. Plate and garnish with lemon oil and whole morels.