As with pizza or focaccia, the bread base of the gratinate can be covered with all manner of savories. A big batch of sliced mushrooms sautéed with lots of garlic and herbs makes a great topping. Use wild mushrooms if you have some or a mixture of wild cultivated. Use a whole-grain country bread as a base for a more gusty flavor.
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 6 plump garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 ½ pounds mushrooms, cleaned
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
- 4 fresh sage leaves, chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt ½ cup freshly grated Grana Padano
- For the Base and Gratin
- 12 thick slices hearty wheat bread, lightly toasted
- 3 tablespoons soft butter
- ¼ cup chopped parsley
- 1 cup fresh Grana Padano
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Heat the olive oil in the skillet over medium heat and sauté the garlic, stirring, until it just begins to color. Add the butter and, when it melts, toss in the mushrooms, sprinkle on the thyme, sage, and salt, and cook, stirring now and then, until the water evaporates and the mushrooms start to caramelize. Remove from the heat, then stir in the grated cheese.
Lay the bread slices in one layer in the baking pan to cover the bottom completely. Spread the soft butter all over the bread and spoon the mushrooms evenly on top, pressing them down into the bread. Sprinkle the parsley on and top with grated cheese.
Bake for 10 to 15 minutes until the cheese has browned and the edges of the bread are crisp. Let rest a few minutes, then cut into serving pieces.