Mushroom lovers will love this dish. I can’t think of a better way to enjoy their unadulterated woodsy flavor than this simple, light gratin which Italians call funghi gratinati.
It’s a quick and easy dish, almost a “non recipe”: You just place mushrooms on a baking dish, sprinkle them with seasoned breadcrumbs and roast them in a hot oven for 15-20 minutes until cooked through and golden brown. That’s all there is to it, really. But don’t let the simplicity fool you. Italian cookery excels at making the most out of the natural goodness of a few quality ingredients, simply but expertly prepared, and this dish is a perfect example of that. The brief oven-roasting intensifies the natural umami in the mushrooms, which the breadcrumb topping elevates but shouldn’t overwhelm with its toasty flavor and crunchy texture, with just a hint of garlicky savor. That’s all you really need or want.
Funghi gratinati are super versatile. They can accompany just about any main course as a side. And they’re so tasty you could perfectly well serve them on their own as a light appetizer. It’d be an excellent way to wake the palate.
Serves 4-6 as a side dish or antipasto
- 250 g (1/2 lb) mushrooms, preferably a tender fleshed variety such as oysters or morels
- 125g (4-1/2 oz) stale Italian bread (or breadcrumbs)
- 1-2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
- A sprig or two of fresh parsley, finely minced
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Olive oil
- Grated parmigiano-reggiano or pecorino (optional)
Clean any grit off the mushrooms with a towel or brush and trim off the bottoms of their stems if they’re tough or discolored.
Lay the mushrooms out in a single layer in a well-greased baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
If using stale bread, remove the crusts and break up your slices into pieces, then wiz them in a food processor until you have breadcrumbs, taking care that they’re not too fine.
Place the breadcrumbs in a mixing bowl, add the garlic, parsley, salt, pepper and, if using, the grated cheese. Drizzle with enough olive oil to thoroughly moisten all the crumbs. Mix well. The texture should resemble wet sand.
Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture over the mushrooms.
Place the baking dish in a hot (200C/400F) oven for 15-20 minutes, or until the mushrooms are cooked through (but not dried out) and the breadcrumb topping is nice and golden brown, as pictured above. If the mushrooms are cooked but the breadcrumbs not as brown as you’d like, you can run the dish under the broiler for a couple of minutes.
Serve warm or at room temperature, topped with some more minced parsley for color if you like.
Given the brief cooking time under dry heat, as mentioned in the ingredients list, a tender fleshed type of mushroom lends itself best for making funghi gratinati. In Italy, the fungo pleurotus, which corresponds our oyster, abalone or tree mushrooms, are a typical choice. Other tender fleshed mushrooms such as morels would also work well. And if you’re pockets are deep enough, in my opinion there’s no better way to appreciate the delicate flavor of chanterelles. (Shiitake might also be nice, though I must confess I haven’t yet tested this recipe with them.)
If you’re using larger or firmer fleshed mushrooms like Baby Bellas (aka “cremini”) or button mushrooms, which are sometimes the only ones you’ll find in the market, it’s best to slice and sauté them beforehand, following our recipe for funghi trifolati. If you go this route, since your mushrooms will be pre-cooked, the dish will need less time in the oven. You may want to raise the oven temperature, say to 225C/450F, to allow the breadcrumbs to brown more quickly. In fact, you could even simply brown the dish under the broiler for a few minutes and let it go at that.
Your funghi gratinati will be at their best if you make your own breadcrumbs. It’s super-easy to do (assuming you have a food processor) and a great way to use up any stale bread you may have around the house. Just be sure it’s the kind of bread that’s firm enough to form crumbs when processed. Homemade or “rustic” store-bought breads are best. Sandwich and other packaged breads won’t work as they never truly go stale. No worries, though. The recipe also lends itself to store-bought breadcrumbs, so long as they’re not too fine. Panko works especially well. And do avoid those horrible “Italian style” breadcrumbs or ones that are otherwise flavored. You want to flavor them yourself, using fresh ingredients.
The grated cheese, as indicated, is entirely optional. You’ll find recipes for funghi gratinati both with and without. Personally I have mixed feelings about pairing mushrooms and cheese, though many people adore the combination. Anyway I find the dish is plenty savory without the cheese. And vegans, of course, will want to omit it.
- 250g 1/2 lb mushrooms preferably a tender fleshed variety such as oysters or chanterelles
- 125g 4-1/2 oz stale Italian bread or breadcrumbs
- 1-2 cloves of garlic finely minced
- A sprig or two of fresh parsley finely minced
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Olive oil
- Grated parmigiano-reggiano or pecorino optional
- Clean any grit off the mushrooms with a towel or brush and trim off the bottoms of their stems if they're tough or discolored.
- Lay the mushrooms out in a single layer in a well-greased baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- If using stale bread, remove the crusts and break up your slices into pieces, then wiz them in a food processor until you have breadcrumbs, taking care that they're not too fine.
- Place the breadcrumbs in a mixing bowl, add the garlic, parsley, salt, pepper and, if using, the grated cheese. Drizzle with enough olive oil to thoroughly moisten all the crumbs. Mix well. The texture should resemble wet sand.
- Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture over the mushrooms.
- Place the baking dish in a hot (200C/400F) oven for 15-20 minutes, or until the mushrooms are cooked through (but not dried out) and the breadcrumb topping is nice and golden brown, as pictured above. If the mushrooms are cooked but the breadcrumbs not as brown as you'd like, you can run the dish under the broiler for a couple of minutes.
- Serve warm or at room temperature, topped with some more minced parsley for color if you like.
Simplicity reigns supreme, doesn’t it? I’m heading to Costco this week hoping to find crates of chanterelles to make this!
Hope you enjoy it!
I am a mushroom lover, definiltey this is heaven in a plate for me
Glad to hear it, Raymund! Thanks so much for stopping by!
Oh, we are SOOOO making this, Frank! My mother and father just saw this photo and agreed, it’s a must make! So simple, and fabulous! Grazie mille!
Grazie a voi! Hope you like it. I think it’s a winner…
In my book, the best recipes are those that are non-recipes (or as I would call them – ideas / concepts. ) I usually sauté mushrooms, but I’m definitely into this method as well – they look terrific! Definitely want some with some crusty rustic bread 🙂
Totally agree, Ben! Thanks for stopping by. 🙂
There is absolutely something to say for those recipes that are non-recipes! Some of my favorite foods fall into that category. This sounds like a delicious and easy side dish for weeknight cooking…and unique, too. Thanks for sharing, Frank! And good tip on the Italian Panko. For some reason, it’s never crossed my mind to buy plain Panko and then just season it myself. Shame on me.
Definitely one of those quick and easy jobs that’s great for weeknights or even if you’re just concentrating on other dishes in a larger meal. And I think you’ll really notice a huge difference if you season those breadcrumbs yourself. It’s so easy, too…
What a wonderful side dish this would be for Thanksgiving. I’m sure everyone in my family would love it, and it’s just unusual enough to be refreshing. Thanks!
Thanks, Jeff. I think you hit the nail on the head.
looks tasty! i do love a mushroom 🙂
Then I think you’d love this, Sherry! Thanks for stopping by. 🙂
ritorno sempre molto volentieri a leggere il tuo blog, questa ricetta per i funghi è ottima, va fatta sicuramente, grazie !
Grazie a te, Chiara!
Oh my goodness. These would be fabulous on my thanksgiving table! Fantastic!!!
I’ve had quite a bit of success dry-frying meatier shrooms (sliced, without oil or butter) which just dehydrates them more ch the way the oven method does in your recipe. Adding the breadcrumbs and cheese just bumps it to the next level. Definitely going to try this. Would make a nice addition to pasta or risotto too.
Indeed it would, Eva! Thanks for stopping by.
That looks delicious and very seasonal.
It’s easy to make bread crumbs even without a food processor: use the larger holes on a box grater. It won’t take much longer than using a food processor.
Thanks for the reminder, Ellen! Indeed, the term for breadcrumb in Italian is “pane grattugiato” or grated bread…