Hen of the Woods Mushroom Toast Recipe - Pamela Salzman Skip to content

Hen of the Woods Mushroom Toast Recipe

Hen of the Woods Mushroom Toast | Pamela Salzman

I don’t eat out that much, but one of my favorite restaurants in Los Angeles is Gjelina in Venice.  I would probably go there more often, but getting a table at a reasonable hour is impossible!  Before my first visit a few years ago, a friend strongly suggested I order the Mushroom Toast.  Let me just say that when I saw items on the menu like “Crispy Purple Peruvian Potatoes!” and “Moroccan Chickpea and Black Kale Stew!,” (I used the exclamation points, Gjelina did not) I wasn’t overly excited about “Mushroom Toast.”  But I trust my friend and ordered the mushroom toast and it was ONE OF THE BEST THINGS I HAVE EVER EATEN.  Delicate, earthy mushrooms in a light, creamy white wine-infused sauce, all poured over grilled bread and drizzled with truffle oil, the nooks and crannies of the toast catching every bit of mushroom juiciness.  It was so delicious, I actually had dreams about it that night.  True story!

Hen of the Woods Mushrooms, aka Maitake mushrooms


chop the mushrooms of break apart with your hands

The problem is that Gjelina doesn’t share their recipes, at least not with little old me.  So after a game of 20 questions with my waiter, I had a game plan for attempting to recreate this dish at home.  The ingredients are ones I never would have thought to put together on my own: Hen of the Woods mushrooms (what??), creme fraiche and truffle oil.  Now I may not have gotten the recipe exactly right, and in fact I do believe my version is less rich and creamy, but I am so obsessed with the way this turned out, that I don’t care how different mine is.  First of all, even though I don’t eat too much bread, I think anything on grilled bread is DE-licious!  And grilled bread rubbed with garlic is SUPER DE-licious!

grilling bread

But mushrooms are the star of this show and Hen of the Woods mushrooms are so meaty and earthy with the most delicate texture.  They also go by the name “Maitake” mushrooms.  I found them easily at Whole Foods and I have seen them at several local farmers markets.  I will warn you, they are pricey, so if you can’t find them or you don’t want to spend the money, you can use oyster or chanterelle mushrooms.  You really can’t use button mushrooms or Portobellos in this recipe.  I tried them here, and they’re too firm.  You really need something light and delicate.  Japanese mushrooms, including Maitake, are really good for you and contain loads of immune-boosting compounds and have even been shown to have anti-cancer and anti-tumor compounds.  They also have less water than traditional mushrooms, so they actually have a more mushroom-y flavor.  Yum!

reduce to a thickened sauce

I really went for it and bought truffle oil at Sur La Table to finish off the dish the way they do at Gjelina.  Yes, this mushroom mixture is already rich enough with the creme fraiche and the butter and the olive oil, but good gracious, a drizzle of truffle oil takes this over the top.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t find truffle oil locally that was totally pure, without “truffle flavoring.”  But a quick search on amazon.com provided a few choices for all-natural truffle oils (like this one from JR Mushrooms & Specialties.)

pour the the mushrooms with the sauce over the toasts

a little garnish makes these look prettier

I taught this recipe in my class this month and more than one person asked, “why is this so good?”  It’s really everything, and not just one thing.  The grilled bread, the garlic rubbed on the grilled bread, the meaty, delicate mushrooms, the tangy creme fraiche (which is really just French sour cream), and the truffle oil all make this something so special.  The way I made it in these pictures would be amazing as an appetizer on a plate with or without a fresh green salad.  Or you can opt for a smaller piece of toast and serve this as an hors d’oeuvre, although it can be a tad messy.  I think even for brunch with a fried egg on top would be amazing.  Hoping you try this and love it as much as I do!

Hen of the Woods Mushroom Toasts

5.0 from 1 reviews
Hen of the Woods Mushroom Toast
Serves: about 6
  • 3 large slices of crusty peasant bread, about ½-inch thick
  • 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil + additional for brushing bread
  • 1 whole garlic clove + 2 cloves, minced
  • 10 ounces Hen of the Woods mushrooms, aka Maitake, chopped or broken apart with your hands
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper or to taste
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup chicken, vegetable or mushroom stock
  • 6 Tablespoons crème fraiche
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Truffle oil to drizzle
  • Chopped fresh chives for garnish (optional)
  1. Preheat a grill over medium heat.
  2. Brush both sides of bread with olive oil.  Grill bread on both sides until toasted and slightly charred.  Thinly slice the end off of the whole garlic clove and rub one side of each piece of bread with the cut side of the garlic.  Cut the bread in half crosswise and arrange on a platter.
  3. In a large sauté pan, warm the olive oil over medium heat.  Add garlic and sauté for 30 seconds or until fragrant.  Add mushrooms, salt and pepper and sauté until softened.
  4. Add wine and cook until liquid is almost completely absorbed.
  5. Stir in chicken stock and cook until reduced by half, about 10 minutes.  Whisk in crème fraiche and butter and cook until slightly thickened, but still saucy.
  6. Spoon mushroom mixture with sauce over toasts.  Drizzle with truffle oil and a sprinkle of chopped fresh chives, if desired, and serve immediately.

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  1. My daughter and I stumbled across this recipe after gathering too many hens this weekend and needed some variety. Cooking it right now. So excited to try it.

  2. I am lucky enough to have harvested some hens of the woods yesterday.I sauted some of them last night night by themselves and they are amazing.I saw your recipe this morning and am eager to try it when I get home.Can’t wait.

    • Lucky you! This recipe will not disappoint.

  3. Can any of this be done in advance? Looks great!

  4. Another winner! Maybe I am crazy but is there a fish that this would work for as a topping/sauce? Halibut?


    • Oooh, I hadn’t thought about that. Yes! Halibut would be great with this mixture!

      • Thanks!!!! Guessing I could sub mixed mushrooms if need be. Will keep you posted if I make it!!!!

        • Yes, but the Hen of the Woods mushrooms are really soft and feathery, a more delicate texture than regular. But absolutely use regular mixed mushrooms if need be!

  5. Pamela,

    I tried your recipe last night and it was soooo fantastic! My guests raved. I found dried hen of woods mushrooms which worked quite well and used oyster and naoki mushrooms and it was perfect. i also used a very light layer of goat cheese on the toast..

    Thank you for the recipe !!

    • Oooh, goat cheese! Nice!

  6. If I want to veganize this is it possible to use an alternate product for the creme fraiche? Any suggestions? It has such a unique flavour and consistency I’m not sure what will work.

    • You can try a cashew cream with a touch of lemon to mimic the tanginess of the creme fraiche, then use a mushroom or veggie broth in place of the chicken stock, and Earth Balance for the butter. Do you know what I mean by cashew cream? If not, let me know!

      • Yes. I can’t believe I didn’t think of that. Great idea! Thanks so much. I’ll definitely try this and let you know how it works.

        • Great, thanks!

  7. I’m so excited to try this recipe! I happened to have rang in the new year at Gjenlina with the mushroom toast of course..always on order when I visit my favorite local haunt.
    Thank you so much for sharing the adaptation. Happy New Year and hope to make it to more of your classes in 2014!

  8. I served these as an hors d’oeuvre along with your Zucchini Gruyere Tart on Christmas Eve and they were both a hit. My family was raving about them and ate so many, they didn’t eat much dinner!

    • Good news, bad news! Sounds like you made a beautiful meal. Love hearing about it!

  9. Pamela, I brought this dish to a dinner party last night and I swear people were kissing me for it and hunting me down to see how it was made. I took no credit and directed them your way. You did an amazing job at developing this recipe. The flavors surprisingly deep and unique. Bravo, you’re a superstar.

    • Your comment made me smile. Thank you, Marco. I could eat mushroom toast every day. Although I won’t accept credit for your success with the recipe. All kudos belong to YOU!

  10. Can’t wait to try this! Just a thought, but I often see maitake mushrooms at my local Asian grocer for substantially lower prices.

    • Good call! Thanks for the tip!

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I come from a large Italian-American family with 28 first cousins (on one side of the family!) where sit-down holiday dinners for 85 people are the norm (how, you might ask – organization! But more on that later …).

Some of my fondest memories are of simple family gatherings, both large and small, with long tables of bowls and platters piled high, the laughter of my cousins echoing and the comfort of tradition warming my soul.

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