Here in Italy they are known by the name Morchella or Spugnola. It's important to note that raw morels are mildly toxic so they always need to be cooked before they can be eaten and the issue that first needs to be dealt with is how exactly do you clean them?
There are quite contradictory thoughts on cleaning - from being soaked in a salt water solution for a few hours to avoiding all water and just using a brush to clean them.
I've opted for a middle ground by first brushing any obvious dirt from the head and stem and then I sliced them in half and brushed any grit and bugs(!) from the inside. I've then placed them into a fine sieve and dipped them into cold water, oscillating them as I dip them in and out. This should remove any remaining grit in those honeycomb hollows. I then place them onto paper towels to soak up any excess water and this is done at the last minute, when I'm ready to cook them.
I'm sure people will have other ways of cleaning their Morels and I welcome your advice in comments.
When it comes cooking, simple wins the day. Morels have such a great flavour and are such a treat in themselves that you don't want to over complicate things so I've simply sautéed them in copious amounts of butter with fresh sage and then served them on toasted bread.
250 grams fresh Morels
4 sage leaves
sea salt and white pepper
sliced bread, toasted
The hardest part of this dish is cleaning the morels but once that is done the dish will be ready for the table in less than five minutes.
Place a large knob of butter, a teaspoon of oil and the sage leaves into a skillet and put over a medium heat - when the butter has melted, tumble in the cleaned Morels. Keep an eye on the heat as you don't want the mushrooms to stew - turn the mushroom around to ensure they are evenly cooked and when soft and golden, season with a grinding of sea salt and white pepper.
While the mushrooms are cooking, toast your bread - I used a chewy Pagnotta and toasted it in a grill pan.
To finish, serve the morels over the bread and eat at once.
If you'd like to go one step further, a soft poached egg nestled on top would be a perfect accompaniment.