Tiella di patate e funghi (Potato and Mushroom Casserole)

FrankBasilicata, Calabria, contorno, Puglia41 Comments

Patate e funghi al forno (Potato and Mushroom Casserole)

Southern Italian cookery, in particular the cooking of Puglia, Basilicata and Calabria, is rife with baked vegetable casseroles . They are often called tielle after baking dish in which they are cooked and then served, much like the word “casserole” in English. We’ve featured the iconic tiella pugliese, a veritable one-dish meal made with potatoes, tomatoes, rice and mussels, along with a summery tomato, onion and potato casserole. All of these casseroles share the same essentials: vegetables laid down in alternating layers interlaced with aromatics and seasonings and drizzled with fruity olive oil, then baked until the flavors of the ingredients meld and give off their heady aromas.

Today’s tiella di patate e funghi, or Potato and Mushroom Casserole, is the fall and winter child of the tiella family. It shares the same basic technique as other tielle, but instead of the sunny tomato, mushrooms infuse the casserole with their woodsy flavor so characteristic of the colder months. You can use all fresh mushrooms or optionally some reconstituted dried mushrooms, which will lend a more intense mushroom flavor, especially if you drizzle in some of the soaking liquid.

This tiella makes for a nice side dish, especially with pork, but it’s interesting enough to be a vegetarian or vegan main dish as well.

Ingredients

Serves 4-6 as a side dish

  • 500g (1 lb) potatoes, peeled and sliced
  • 250g (1/2 lb) fresh mushroom, sliced
  • Olive oil

For the breadcrumb topping:

  • 50g (1/2 cup) breadcrumbs
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • A few sprigs of fresh parsley, finely minced
  • 25 g (1 oz) grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper
  • 100 ml (1/2 cup) broth, preferably homemade, or water
  • Olive oil

Optional:

  • 50 g (2 oz) dried mushrooms, soaked in warm water and roughly chopped

Directions

Mix the breadcrumbs, garlic, parsley, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper in the mixing bowl. Drizzle in just enough olive oil to moisten the mixture so it has a sand-like texture. Taste and adjust for seasoning—the mixture should be very savory.

Oil the bottom of a baking dish large enough to hold all the potatoes and mushrooms. Lay down a layer of potato, then a layer of the mushrooms (including some of the reconstituted dried mushrooms if using), season with salt and pepper, and finally top with the breadcrumb mixture. Drizzle some olive oil on top. Repeat these steps until you’ve used up all the ingredients. But before laying on the final breadcrumb topping, drizzle a bit of water, broth or, if you’re using the reconstituted dried mushrooms, some of their soaking liquid, filtered of any grit, down the inside edge of the baking dish, taking care not to upset the ingredients.

Bake in a moderate (18C/350F) oven for a good hour or so, until the potatoes are tender, all the liquid has evaporated and the top is golden brown.

Serve right away.

Patate e funghi al forno (Potato and Mushroom Casserole)

Notes on Tiella di patate a funghi

Most recipes don’t call for adding liquid. I do, as this helps the potatoes to cook a bit more quickly. And, if you use broth or the mushroom soaking liquid, this lends a good bit of flavor. You do need to be careful, however, that all of this liquid is absorbed or evaporated. Otherwise the casserole will be soggy. This does make for a rather longer baking time. Alternatively you could parboil the potato slices before baking. It’s an extra step but speeds the cooking process considerably. You’ll need only 30 minutes or so baking time.

It may go without saying for a dish like this, but the measurements are pretty flexible here. More potato if you want to “stretch” the dish, more mushroom if you want more intense flavor. All purpose potatoes like Yukon Golds work very well in this dish, although some recipes specify that the potatoes should be farinose, or “floury”, the kind you use for mashed potatoes.

Fresh porcini would be wonderful but pricey choice for the mushroom—assuming you can even find them where you live, which I can’t. Cardoncelli, a kind of oyster mushroom, is a popular choice. But you can make patate e fungh al forno with any kind of mushroom you like, really, either cultivated or wild. Mixing in some reconstituted dried mushrooms adds a lot of flavor, and you can get away with rather milder fresh mushrooms. Again, dried porcini would be just the ticket, but less expensive options work perfectly well, too. For my version, in fact, I used “Baby Bella” mushrooms mixed with reconstituted shiitakes, both very reasonably priced options, and the result was perfectly palatable.

You can use pecorino cheese instead of the Parmesan, but personally I prefer the milder Parmesan. At these quantities, you really don’t taste the cheese, it just lends a bit of umami. Pecorino, on the other hand, would surely assert its sharp presence. At other other end of the spectrum, some recipes can get very cheesy indeed, layering on copious amounts of caciocavallo or taleggio. Actually sounds nice if you’re in the mood.

 

Tiella di patate e funghi (Potato and Mushroom Casserole)

Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Yield: Serves 4-6 as a side dish

Tiella di patate e funghi (Potato and Mushroom Casserole)

Ingredients

  • 500g (1 lb) potatoes, peeled and sliced
  • 250g (1/2 lb) fresh mushroom, sliced
  • Olive oil
  • For the breadcrumb topping:
  • 50g (1/2 cup) breadcrumbs
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • A few sprigs of fresh parsley, finely minced
  • 25 g (1 oz) grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper
  • 100 ml (1/2 cup) broth, preferably homemade, or water
  • Olive oil
  • Optional:
  • 50 g (2 oz) dried mushrooms, soaked in warm water and roughly chopped

Directions

  1. Mix the breadcrumbs, garlic, parsley, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper in the mixing bowl. Drizzle in just enough olive oil to moisten the mixture so it has a sand-like texture. Taste and adjust for seasoning—the mixture should be very savory.
  2. Oil the bottom of a baking dish large enough to hold all the potatoes and mushrooms. Lay down a layer of potato, then a layer of the mushrooms (including some of the reconstituted dried mushrooms if using), season with salt and pepper, and finally top with the breadcrumb mixture. Drizzle some olive oil on top. Repeat these steps until you've used up all the ingredients. But before laying on the final breadcrumb topping, drizzle a bit of water, broth or, if you're using the reconstituted dried mushrooms, some of their soaking liquid, filtered of any grit, down the inside edge of the baking dish, taking care not to upset the ingredients.
  3. Bake in a moderate (18C/350F) oven for a good hour or so, until the potatoes are tender, all the liquid has evaporated and the top is golden brown.
  4. Serve right away.
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41 Comments on “Tiella di patate e funghi (Potato and Mushroom Casserole)”

  1. So excited to make this today! As an Italian-American I think of casseroles as those awful things from 1950s kitchens–green bean, chicken spaghetti, and tuna casseroles. I know, of course, the French have several good recipes. However, other than baked pasta dishes, I never knew there was an Italian tiele or casserole. This is a main course for a vegetarian* birthday dinner party tonight. It works for us because there will be a cheese/appetizer sideboard, a salad, and of course…a cake.

    *However, while I do now eat a very low meat diet, when I can make this for omnivores I think sautéing the mushrooms in a bit of pancetta might be a nice addition! 🙂 Grazie!

    1. You’re welcome, Sebastian! I think you and your guests will really enjoy this. (And yes, I’d old enough to remember those 1950s casseroles, too…)

  2. Fantastic recipe Frank and super versatile as well. We will give this a try with wild mushrooms we are about to buy this weekend in the countryside. The timing couldn’t be better. Panos is drooling over the pics as he’s a huge mushroom fan:)
    Sending you our love,
    Mirella and Panos

  3. Actually I enjoyed it so much I did your original version for my clients and colleagues at work! Instant hit!

  4. Again you show us something so tasty and so simple to do.
    I made these patate e funghi yesterday. The result was an extraordinary experience and this was another reason why I’m in love with Italian cusine.
    Thank you again Frank.
    (I must confess something, I used boiled potatoes in their skins and already sliced frozen mushrooms. I have not added any other type of liquid. )

  5. What a comforting and cozy dish. I wouldn’t need a thing to go with it. No sides necessary for me. That breadcrumb mixture sounds so delicious, and I love that it’s layered along with everything else and not just on top. Perfect!

  6. Mark and I were just looking at this, and we both thought it would make a great supper during the winter. This plus a side salad would be just perfect.

  7. This casserole is so shockingly simple and delicious-looking. The magic seems to be in those amazing-sounding breadcrumbs! I’d top anything with those. I agree with you about drizzling in a little liquid for flavor, and I also think a few dried mushrooms – which I love – would be so nice. Thanks for the interesting recipe!

  8. Just made this for my vegetarian family. Didn’t have enough potatoes ( last minute lunch!) so added peppers and onions. Utterly delicious with warm crusty bread.

    1. Glad you all enjoyed it, Susie! Sounds like interesting (and tasty) variation—as they say, necessity is the mother of invention.

  9. Frank, this is such a warm and comfortable sounding dish, yet uncomplicated. I think your suggestion to serve it with pork sounds fantastic, but I could make a meal of the tiella. I have some dried Karljohansvamp (Swedish porcini) that will go wonderful in this dish. Thanks for sharing.

  10. Sono curioso…is a thin béchamel welcome? Perhaps made thin by whisking into the broth? A sort of dauphinoise treatment, perhaps adding onions? I love the idea–making it for vegetarians next week–just asking your opinion. Also: what vegetarian soup or appetizer would go nicely. I don’t have to ask about salad–that’s a given, haha!

    1. Well, that would take things in a different direction, but it sounds like a delicious one. As for a vegetarian appetizer, what about a marinated carrots? Different enough and quite “spritely” but still in the winter mood.

  11. Thank you, Frank for the inspiration; it’s in the oven right now. I added a little bit of salted lemon to the breadcrumbs as I thought it might be nice with a bit of grated lemon rind and then realised I didn’t have any fresh.

  12. With humble apologies this tiella may be tried as a fusion dish with the plethora of wonderful Asian mushrooms I can access, especially in the winter months, here Down Under. Like the topping . . . shall concoct !

  13. The absolutely perfect side to roasted meats during the winter. I especially liked your suggestions regarding the addition of liquid and perhaps parboiling the potatoes Frank. I must keep this in mind, especially for a larger dinner party.

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