I’ll always remember the first time one of the these things showed up in the kitchen. I opened up a shipping container filled with a giant beige noodle ball. I had never seem a mushroom like it, and since their shelf life is short, I got it on a vegetarian tasting menu that night next to a carnival pumpkin filled with quinoa and a sauce of melted brie.
It’s still a rare thing for me to see a cauliflower mushroom, but once every other year or two they seem to show up. Part of the problem is that they aren’t supposed to grow in the Midwest. I know a lot of people that hunt mushrooms in Minnesota though, and one of my more experienced friends says they do grow in Minnesota, and that he’s picked them growing with pine in the north, but that they’re rare.
Either way they’re delicious, and kind of act like giant mushroomy noodles in a pan. Like hens though, their ovoid blog shape makes for a great bug hotel, so I make sure to pick them into individual floret clusters and clean before cooking. Here’s a fun recipe I made last time I saw one.
Cauliflower Mushroom-Cabbage Gratin
Serves 4-6 as a side dish or vegetarian entree
- 1lb green cabbage, core and tough inner leaves removed. Diced ½ inch
- ½ cup shallot, diced ¼ inch
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste
- Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 tablespoon unsalted butter, plus 2 tablespoon for finishing the gratin
- ½ lb cauliflower mushroom, cleaned
- ½ cup shredded gruyere cheese
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
- 1/2 cup chicken stock, preferably homemade
- ½ cup lightly toasted breadcrumbs
- 1 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley
- Sweat the shallot in 1 tablespoon of the butter for 2 minutes, then add the cabbage, 1/4 cup of the chicken stock and season to taste lightly with salt and pepper, cook until the cabbage is wilted and tender, about 10-15 minutes on medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. Try not to have the cabbage brown, if the pan gets dry, add a little of the chicken stock. Drain the cabbage of excess liquid in a collander, you should end up with about 2 cups of packed, tender cabbage. Reserve.
- Brown the cauliflower mushrooms in the other tablespoon of butter, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Cool the mushrooms, then mix with the cooked, cooled cabbage, thyme and gruyere.
- Preheat an oven to 350 degrees. Pack the mushroom-cabbage mixture In a wide gratin dish or casserole and drizzle the remaining chicken stock over it. Mix the breadcrumbs with the parsley, sprinkle over the top, then dot the whole mixture with the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Bake for 15 minutes or until hot throughout, then serve. The gratin can be assembled ahead of time, then brought to room temperature before baking.