Gratin di cavolini di Bruxelles e funghi (Brussels Sprouts and Mushroom Gratin)

Frankcontorno35 Comments

Gratin di cavolini di Bruxelles e funghi (Brussels Sprouts and Mushroom Gratin)

Properly prepared, Brussels sprouts are a lovely vegetable. Called cavolini di Bruxelles or ‘little cabbages of Brussels’ in Italian, these most elegant of all the cruciferous family of vegetables lend themselves to all sorts of treatments, from a simple sauté to deep frying to this rich and creamy gratin, complemented with the woodsy flavors of mushroom and cured pork.

Gratin di cavolini di Bruxelles e funghi makes a fine side dish for Thanksgiving dinner or any other holiday or special occasion meal, as it pairs particularly well with large roasts—whether it’s turkey, roast beef, ham or a rack of lamb. It’s also rich enough to stand on its own as a light everyday main course. Served with a full bodied red wine, it will warm the cockles very nicely on a chilly evening.

Ingredients

  • 500 g (1 lb) Brussels sprouts, trimmed
  • 150 g (5 oz) mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 50 g (1-1/2 oz) pancetta, cut into lardons
  • 1-2 shallots, finely minced
  • Olive oil
  • Butter
  • Salt and pepper

For the topping:

  • 1 batch of béchamel, made with 2 cups of milk
  • 25g (1 oz) Parmesan cheese
  • 75g (2-1/2 oz) Fontina, Emmenthal or other meltable cheese (optional)

Directions

Parboil the Brussels sprouts in salted water for 7-10 minutes or so, depending on their size, until they are just slightly underdone. Drain and refresh under cold water. Let the sprouts cool and cut them in half from top to bottom. (Leaving any small ones whole if you like.)

In a braiser large enough to hold all the sprouts and mushrooms comfortably, sauté the shallots and the pancetta in a bit of olive oil for just a few moments, long enough for the shallots to wilt slightly. Add the chopped mushrooms and a pinch of salt. Let them sauté briskly, until they’ve reduced and just begun to brown around the edges.

Now turn down the heat to medium and add the Brussels sprouts, along with a good knob of butter, letting everything simmer together for a good 5 minutes more, tossing from time to time. Taste and adjust for seasoning as you go.

Transfer the Brussels sprouts and mushrooms mixture to a buttered baking dish.

Prepare the béchamel sauce following the instructions in this post, folding in the fontina and about half the Parmesan at the end and letting them melt completely into the sauce. Nap the sprouts generously with the béchamel, then top with the rest of the Parmesan and dot the top with butter.

Bake in a hot (220C/425F) oven for 15-20 minutes, until bubbling and nicely browned to your liking on top.

Let cool for a few minutes before serving.

Gratin di cavolini di Bruxelles e funghi (Brussels Sprouts and Mushroom Gratin)

Notes

The only slightly tricky part of the recipe is making the béchamel. Make it to a medium thickness, thick enough to nap the sprouts nicely but loose enough to allow for evaporation while it bubbles and browns it the oven

In Italy, you might use a ready-made bechamel sauce, which is widely sold in supermarkets. It’s not nearly as good as homemade, of course. But in a pinch, it’s a time-saver. And when mixed with lots of other flavors, as in lasagne, you may not notice much of a difference. Funny that it doesn’t appear to be a thing in this country, although I recently discovered you can buy it online.

The Brussels sprouts can be left whole if you prefer, but cutting them in half does allow the flavors of the seasonings to penetrate rather better. Or just cut the larger ones in half. But only cut them after they’ve been parboiled to avoid water-logging them.

Porcini mushrooms would be lovely in your gratin, if you can find them and have deep pockets. But really any kind of mushroom will do, even plain old button mushrooms. I rather like the mushroom mixes they sell these days. This week I found a mix of oysters and shiitake at our local supermarket, which I liked very much.

Gratin di cavolini di Bruxelles e funghi (Brussels Sprouts and Mushroom Gratin)

The recipe is flexible. If you’re a vegetarian, omit the pancetta and you’re good to go. (There’s no way I can think of to successfully veganize this dish, though.) If you’d like a lighter dish appropriate for an everyday meal, you can stop after the third step and serve the sautéed sprouts and mushrooms without gratinéing them, as pictured above. They’ll be perfectly delicious. If you want something even richer, on the other hand, add more cheese in the sauce or on top.

Gratin di cavolini di Bruxelles e funghi (Brussels Sprouts and Mushroom Gratin)

Total Time1 hr
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: baked, vegetable

Ingredients

  • 500g (1 lb) Brussels sprouts trimmed
  • 150g (5 oz) mushrooms roughly chopped
  • 50g (1-1/2 oz) 50 g (1-1/2 oz) pancetta cut into lardons
  • 1-2 shallots finely minced
  • Olive oil
  • Butter
  • Salt and pepper

For the topping:

  • 1 batch 1 batch of béchamel made with 2 cups of milk
  • 25g 1 oz Parmesan cheese grated
  • 75g 2-1/2 oz Fontina, Emmenthal or other meltable cheese shredded (optional)

Instructions

  • Parboil the Brussels sprouts in salted water for 7-10 minutes or so, depending on their size, until they are slightly underdone. Drain and refresh under cold water. Let the sprouts cool and cut them in half from top to bottom. (Leaving any small ones whole if you like.)
  • In a braiser large enough to hold all the sprouts and mushrooms comfortably, sauté the shallots and the pancetta in a bit of olive oil for just a few moments, long enough for the shallots to wilt slightly. Add the chopped mushrooms and a pinch of salt. Let them sauté briskly, until they've reduced and just begun to brown around the edges.
  • Now turn down the heat to medium and add the Brussels sprouts, along with a good knob of butter, letting everything simmer together for a good 5 minutes more, tossing from time to time. Taste and adjust for seasoning as you go.
  • Transfer the Brussels sprouts and mushrooms mixture to a buttered baking dish.
  • Prepare the béchamel sauce, folding in the fontina and about half the Parmesan and letting them melt completely into the sauce. Nap the sprouts generously with the béchamel, then top with the rest of the Parmesan and dot the top with butter.
  • Bake in a hot (220C/425F) oven for 15-20 minutes, until bubbling and nicely browned to your liking on top.
  • Let cool for a few minutes before serving.

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35 Comments on “Gratin di cavolini di Bruxelles e funghi (Brussels Sprouts and Mushroom Gratin)”

  1. What a delicious looking recipe! I’ve never really done much with brussel sprouts other than steaming them. This looks wonderful with the bechamel. Can’t wait to try it!

  2. Thank you for this wonderful recipe, Frank! This looks amazing! I’m not a mushroom fan – could I leave those out and use more Brussels instead? Or add some green beans? Thank you in advance for any thoughts!

  3. Brussels sprouts are my absolute favourite veggie and I’m always looking for new ways to cook them.
    I can’t wait to try these!
    Thanks for sharing Frank!
    Lexi

  4. Might try these for Thanksgiving! Can’t find fresh porcini but thinking dried would work as well, maybe 1/2 and 1/2 with regular mushrooms.

  5. Frank, we’re Brussel sprout lovers in this house and have paired them with mushrooms more than once, but never in such a luscious looking sauce. A must-try recipe and one I see setting on our Julbord come Christmas.

  6. I saw these Brussels on Instagram last night, and I immediately had to stop and admire them. What a delicious recipe, Frank! I didn’t grow up eating Brussels (for some reason they just weren’t on my family’s regular rotation), but now I love ’em. The idea of turning them into a gratin is genius. What a delicious side dish!

    Also, I can’t get over the idea of bechamel sauce in a can/box. It is fairly easy to make at home, but I’m surprised that hasn’t become a thing here in the States. We have canned everything else…

    1. Yep, that was my thought, too. Americans love convenience, so you’d think a product like prepared béchamel would have caught on like wild fire!

  7. Great post! Funny, as I was reading it, I was thinking, hey, I’d even eat this without the sauce … and then you suggested it! I love Brussels sprouts! And I’ve never had them this way, so what a huge bonus. And what an exquisite side dish this’d make! Happy Thanksgiving, Frank!

  8. Have loved both Brussels sprouts and mushrooms all my life but do not remember consciously combining them or baking thus with béchamel. No Thanksgiving in sight this side of the Pond but this recipe calls me enough to try . . . and it well may be as a main dish . . . By the bye, when my daughters were small there was no trouble whatsoever having them on the plate – the girls did think them to be little darling cabbages . . . that did not mean a few did not hop about the dining table !

  9. Oh my goodness! I love brussel sprouts in any manner (except boiled to a pulp), but this is an exceptional recipe! Sounds like heaven with the pancetta in there, too! Thanks for another delicious inspiration, Frank! Happy Thanksgiving!

  10. This would be a main for us! LOVE Brussels sprouts. When properly cooked, of course. 🙂 Had no idea ready-made bechamel sauce was a thing — and I can see why, because a lot of people are hesitant to make their own. Me? I’ll do it myself. 🙂 Good post — thanks

    1. Thanks, John! That ready made bechamel can be a real timesaver in a pinch, but really, once you get the hang of it, making your own is not hard at all.

  11. Both Mark and I really love brussels sprouts and find them to be so under appreciated. This gratin looks absolutely fantastic, Frank, and I’m glad to hear you say it would make a great main course… It seems perfect on its own! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving. D

  12. WOW! I think even the rugrats would love this recipe! I just love béchamel so this tasty dish is definitely right up my alley. I will be a contributor for Thanksgiving this year, this may indeed be on the menu, thank for posting such a wonderful recipe.

  13. Oh ny god, who could not enjoy B sprouts prepared this way! I just printed the recipe. Can’t use it for Thanksgiving because of a vegetarian who’s already dictated how she wants her B sprouts prepared, but this will be part of a special meal in the near future. Thank you.

    1. And thank you for stopping by, Mimi! I agree, this is one of those recipes that even people who don’t normally enjoy them might actually like.

  14. Good heavens, what a website!! I’ve also had a look at the page on Zucchini Blossoms alla Ligure, just bowled me over. Now I know how to stuff vegetables like aubergines, peppers, etc. as an alternative to meat. So many good ideas, attention to detail, passion for food and – last but not least – good writing!

    I read aeons ago about Seppie in Zimino but then forgot even that it is a thing, and whenever I get my hands on calamari or seppie never know what to do with them. By the way, could you be interested in insalata di moscardini? That’s what I was looking for when I landed here. When done properly it’s delicious but you can go wrong adding too much tomato and/or celery, which is what happened to me last August. Your take on this dish would be much appreciated!

    It so happens that I chanced on a recipe for baked brussels sprouts a couple of weeks ago, in a Japanese magazine of all places!! The advantage there was that, being the writer happily unencumbered by tradition, the execution was stripped down to the bare essentials, and the dish very quick to make (can you believe it, making bechamel sauce was reduced to chucking some flour in the pot with the braised sprouts, giving it a good stir and adding milk to form a cream – I added nutmeg as I am wont to do, et voila, the whole lot was ready for baking:-))). My family as a rule can’t even bear the sight of brussels sprouts, but they totally loved this way of serving it. Now I look forward to repeating my next success using your version with mushrooms… Yum!!

    1. Thank you so much, Barbara, for the kind words. I’m delighted you’re enjoying the site.

      I do have a recipe for insalata di polpo, which you can easily adapt for moscardini. As you can see, however, I do add a few veg in, but list all of them as optional and without measurements so the reader can decide what they like.

      Good luck with this recipe. I do think you’re right. It’s one of those that even Brussels sprouts haters might well enjoy.

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