Very few foods have the legendary immune enhancing properties of maitakes. This marvelous quality combined with its extraordinarily delicious flavor make maitake a magical food indeed. This mushroom not only grows abundantly in the wild east of the Mississippi but it’s also now available as an organically cultivated mushroom.
Here’s the topping for the pizza dough of your choice. You can also make this into great crostini by toasting sour dough bread slices and putting this mushroomy goodness on top.
For the topping:
- 1½ - 2 pounds of maitake mushrooms, Wild or Cultivated
- 3 tablespoons olive oil plus 3 tablespoons more for painting the dough or the bread.
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1½ tablespoons finely chopped garlic
- ¾ cup grated parmesan cheese
- ¼ cup chopped parsley
- Have either pizza dough rolled and ready or lightly toasted thick (¾-1”) slices of sour dough bread.
- Heat oven to 450 degrees. If the maitake are wild, clean them by brushing and rinsing them. Tear the wild or the cultivated maitake into loose petals. The more surface exposed the crispier they get. Place in a large bowl. Add the oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. Toss well.
- Spread the mushroom mix thinly on a large baking sheet. Roast in the oven for 5-10 minutes until the mushrooms are browned and fairly crispy.
- Raise the oven temperature to 500-550 degrees. Prepare your pizza dough on a floured surface into thin circles of 6-10 inches. If using bread, slice into ¾-1” inch thick slices and toast lightly in the oven. Watch the bread carefully and don’t let it get too toasted since it will go back into the oven again.
- Paint the pizza dough surface with the additional oil leaving a half inch around the edges without oil. With bread you can paint the entire surface with oil. Sprinkle a single layer of mushrooms over the surface of the bread or the pizza dough.
- Top with 1-3 tablespoons of parmesan. A single tablespoon is ideal for a large slice of bread and 2-3 tablespoons for a small pizza. Slide the pizzettas or bread/crostini directly onto the hot oven rack. Bake for 8-10 minutes for pizzettas or 4-5 minutes for bread. Remove from oven onto a wire rack. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and a little sea salt.
Tips and Techniques
As the maitake cook, they'll release some moisture, then begin to caramelize and crisp up around the edges, becoming super tasty. Any extra maitake are a great addition to salads, breakfast egg dishes, braises, pasta sauces, sandwiches and tacos.
Substitutions and Variations
Fresh chanterelle mushrooms can be substituted for maitake in this recipe, with the addition of a little chopped thyme. They roast well in the oven cooked at the same temperature. Chanterelles will also release moisture as they cook, then will begin to caramelize and grow golden around some edges.