While out mushrooming recently, my husband found a real treasure, a cauliflower mushroom. We have found them before but it’s been awhile as they are not as prolific as many of the other mushrooms around here but the fun thing about them is that they can get HUGE! They generally vary from 1-10 pounds! The one we got was about twice the size of an adult head, I’d estimate it weighed about 2 pounds and it was a beauty, fresh, relatively clean and it smelled wonderful, woodsy and mushroomy-we were excited! We cooked up a pan right away with a little butter, garlic and parsley and spooned them onto toasts topped with a little parmesan and we were in heaven, yum! Then I decided we needed a mushroom casserole-a Cauliflower Mushroom Gratin!
Cauliflower mushrooms are easy to identify with no really close look alikes and they are definitely a choice mushroom. They smell and taste amazing with a clean herbaceous mushroom aroma and a nice firm texture despite their delicate and frilly appearance. You need to clean it carefully because there are a lot of spots dirt and bugs can hide but I found tearing it into large chunks as I went made it easy. I cleaned mine with some running water which worked well, the mushroom didn’t seem to absorb much water and as I cleaned each chunk I laid them on a clean tea towel to dry a bit before cooking.
After we finished our mushroom toasts, I made a pasta with both cauliflower and chanterelle mushrooms, Italian sausage, tomato, chili flakes, and a little cream. (Have I mentioned that mushrooms are one of my favourite foods? #givemeallthemushrooms)
Once home we still had about half of our giant mushroom left so I got to making the Wild Mushroom Gratin. It is easy and could be assembled ahead of time and then baked just before serving. Creamy and garlicky with a crispy topping of parsley, cheese and bread crumbs this is my ultimate comfort food. Served with some hearty fresh bread and a salad, this would be a great vegetarian dinner. I used some spinach in this which I loved but my husband and daughter thought the spinach was too strong so use it or omit it as you feel.
Cheers to the good things!
Wild Mushroom Gratin
A simple and delicious wild mushroom gratin. I've used cauliflower mushrooms here because we had found a large, fresh one this year and despite it's delicate appearance, it keeps a nice firm texture once cooked. This would be wonderful with other wild mushrooms too, like chanterelles or a mixture of soft and firm mushrooms like lobster and oyster. I added spinach for the color and vitamins but my husband and daughter both preferred this without spinach so feel free to omit it if you don't love cooked spinach.
- 6 c Wild Mushrooms, Washed And Cut Into 1-2 " Pieces
- 2 tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 c Vegetable Stock
- 1 c Sour Cream (Light is fine but not fat free)
- 2 c Spinach (Optional)
- 1 c Grated Old Cheddar, Divided Gruyere is also delicious
- Salt And Pepper To Taste
Bread Crumb Mixture
- 1 1/2 c Dry Bread
- 2 cloves Garlic
- 1/2 c Parsley
- 1/2 tsp Salt
Preheat oven to 350'F
Make the bread crumb mixture by pulsing garlic, parsley and salt in a food processor until the garlic is chopped well, then add the bread and pulse until it is an even fine bread crumb mixture.
Heat the oil in a large pan on medium, once heated, add the mushrooms and saute until they are cooked down and liquid is gone, then add stock and simmer until liquid is reduced by half.
Add sour cream, 1/2 cup of the cheese, and spinach if using. Stir gently to incorporate and wilt spinach, then add 1/2 of the bread crumb mixture and stir in. Season to taste with salt and pepper then scrape mixture into an oven safe 9x7 baking dish.
Mix bread crumbs and remaining 1/2 cup of cheese together and sprinkle evenly over mushroom mixture and bake in oven until browned on top, approximately 20 minutes.