Mushroom and Seasonal Cauliflower Gratin

I love this current trend that’s going on where we’re making healthy comfort foods. Where we care about the ingredients, the preparation, the nutrition of the meal, but never forgetting about the taste and that special something that can make certain foods just make you feel, well, comforted. And content.

True, lightening up stodgy foods is not necessarily a recent development, but lately, it seems to be happening for the love of cooking, for the love of an ingredient, not because a particular diet is telling us so.

Mushroom and Cauliflower Gratin

That’s one of the reasons why I so love Rachel Khoo’s recipes. She celebrates each ingredient so exuberantly and you can just tell she has a real passion for creating beautiful new dishes.

There’s a recipe for mushroom and cauliflower gratin in her new book, Rachel Khoo’s Kitchen Notebook that just screams comfort food; it’s still creamy and luscious, but at the same time herby and full of veggies.

Mushroom and Cauliflower Gratin

It’s not easy selling a cauliflower dish in my household… But I had found some seasonal purple cauliflower at the market and convinced everyone to give it a go… They may not be cauliflower converts, but I’m pretty sure that they would all willingly eat this gratin again, cauliflower and all!

So that’s why I’m bringing this dish to Fiesta Friday #92, this week hosted by all of us, to convert all you cauliflower haters out there.

Mushroom and Seasonal Cauliflower Gratin

  • Servings: serves 4 as a main or 6-8 as a side
  • Print

Mushroom and Cauliflower Gratin


  • 50g salt
  • 1.25 litres room temperature water
  • 800g fresh shiitake mushrooms or a combination including oyster, shiitake and chestnut mushrooms (brushed clean)
  • 3 brown onions
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 40g butter
  • 100ml dry white wine
  • 400g frozen chopped spinach
  • 1 red chilli (seeded and finely chopped)
  • 80ml crème fraiche
  • salt to taste
  • 1 small cauliflower (purple if you can get it)
  • handful dill sprigs (finely chopped)
  • handful mint leaves (finely chopped)
  • ½ lemon (juiced)
  • 100g mature cheddar (grated)


  1. Preheat the oven to 220ºC.
  2. Place the salt and water in a large deep roasting pan and stir until the salt dissolves. Add the mushrooms to the brine, then place another roasting tray on top so that the mushrooms are fully submerged. Stand for 10 minutes*.
  3. Meanwhile, cut two of the onions into quarters and separate the onion layers into petals. Finely chop the remaining onion and set aside.
  4. Drain the mushrooms well, then pat dry on paper towels. Dry the roasting pan and then return the mushrooms to the pan and toss with the olive oil. Roast for 15 minutes, then stir through the onion petals and roast for another 15 minutes or until the mushrooms and onions are golden.
  5. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the finely chopped onion and cook for 5 to 6 minutes or until soft. Add the wine and simmer until nearly evaporated. Add the spinach and most of the chilli and stir for 6 to 7 minutes or until the spinach has defrosted and most of the liquid has evaporated. Stir in the crème fraiche, season to taste, then pour into a large baking dish about 27 x 20 cm.
  6. Bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to the boil over high heat. Remove the outer green leaves of the cauliflower but keep the stalk on the cauliflower. Slice the cauliflower from top to bottom into 5 mm-thick ‘steaks’ – you will be left with a few cauliflower florets that don’t stay intact, but you will use it all. Carefully drop all the cauliflower bits (minus the tiny crumbs) into the boiling water and simmer for 1 minute, then drain into a colander.
  7. Preheat the grill to high.  Reserve a few of the herbs for the garnish, then combine the rest with the lemon juice and stir through the mushrooms. Spread the mushroom mixture over the top of the spinach, then sprinkle over any cauliflower crumbs. Place the blanched cauliflower over the top, then sprinkle with the grated cheese. Grill for 5 to 10 minutes or until the top is golden and bubbly. Sprinkle with the remaining chilli and herbs, then serve immediately.

* It’s important not to keep the mushrooms in the brine for longer than 10 minutes as they are like sponges and will absorb too much water if left any longer.

Recipe by Rachel Khoo from Rachel Khoo’s Kitchen Notebook.


Mushroom and Poached Egg Spaghetti – Or Faux Spaghetti alla Carbonara

It’s been a long, long, LONG week.

But two things have made this seemingly never-ending week bearable: Co-hosting Fiesta Friday #65 and #putaneggonit.

Co-hosting Fiesta Friday with Jhuls @The Not So Creative Cook was great fun, and we should all send lots of yummy care packages full of food over to Angie @The Novice Gardener for continuing to create a great space for us all to share, laugh and eat.

And speaking of laughing, I love the putaneggonit hashtag on Instagram, such great recipes, funny comments and some very silly people who should maybe consider keeping their opinions to themselves once in a while… you’ve got to love social media… If you don’t like it, unsubscribe.

But the hashtag did remind me to post this recipe. It’s a mashup of an alfredo and carbonara sauce. With mushrooms. And a bit of thyme.

Mushroom and Poached Egg Pasta

I love spaghetti alla carbonara, but I only ever eat it at restaurants (without the bacon, obviously). I’ve never, and probably will never actually make it at home as I would ruin it. I would ruin any dish that has uncooked egg in it.

Warmed is not cooked, people.

But ordering carbonara at a restaurant means that it appears in front of me all twirled up high and fancy looking, and I don’t have to mess around with raw eggs and hope there was enough residual heat to cook them… (Commercial kitchens are hotter, okay? Let’s just leave it at that!)

So, here’s the best of both worlds… a lovely, creamy alfredo sauce with a poached (cooked) egg on top that when pierced, adds another layer to the sauce.

For me, it’s the best of both worlds.

I’m sharing this yummy pasta dish with Fiesta Friday #66, which is this week hosted by Anna @Anna International, so don’t forget to come along and say hi to everyone.

Mushroom and Poached Egg Spaghetti

Mushroom and Poached Egg Pasta


  • 500g spaghetti
  • 30g butter
  • 2 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (or one teaspoon dried thyme)
  • 200g swiss brown mushrooms (thickly sliced)
  • 300ml thickened cream
  • 50g to 100g parmesan cheese (to taste, finely grated)
  • Splash of vinegar
  • 4 eggs


  1. Cook the spaghetti in a large saucepan of salted boiling water as per the packet instructions. Drain and keep warm.
  2. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and thyme and stir until fragrant.
  3. Add the mushrooms and continue to cook for another 5 minutes or until they start to soften. Season with salt.
  4. Stir in the thickened cream, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened slightly.
  5. Add the parmesan cheese and stir to combine. Remove from the heat.
  6. Add the cooked pasta to the alfredo sauce and toss gently until combined. Divide amongst four bowls and keep warm.
  7. Meanwhile, bring a large sauté pan or shallow pot full of water to a light simmer over medium heat and add the splash of vinegar.
  8. Crack each egg into a separate coffee cup and set aside.
  9. Once the water is simmering, gently pour each egg into its own section of the pot in one fluid motion, dropping the egg yolk in as close to the water as possible without burning yourself.
  10. Cook the eggs for two and half minutes or until they are softly poached – you want them to be cooked but runny when you serve them.
  11. Gently drain each poached egg on some kitchen paper, add one to the top of each bowl of spaghetti and serve immediately.



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