Cauliflower Mushroom

Botanical: Sparassis radicata (S. sparassis)

Description: Head: 10 to 60+ cm, white-cream to pale yellow-tan on edges, thin wavy/crinkled blades, almost solid & chambered near center; Base: 2 to 10 cm x 10 to 30 cm brown-black ‘root’ into the host; odor: spicy/fragrant, non-mushroomy; spore print: white.

Habitat: Fall, at the base of Douglas fir stumps and dead or dying trees, sometimes on ground from buried wood or roots. Re-occurs for several years in the same spot.

4 Key ID:

  • White to pale yellow/tan thin wavy crinkled ‘blades’
  • Growing from the roots/bases of Douglas fir
  • Looks like a mass of egg noodles
  • Uniquely fragrant

Edibility: Choice – with thorough cooking. Some people have noted digestive upsets from older yellowing or browning specimens.

Notes: Our Western Cauliflower mushroom was separated from its Eastern U.S. and European cousins in 2009. To ensure re-growth, make sure not to cut into the central ‘root’ when harvesting. This is one of the few mushrooms where cleaning with water

Cauliflower Mushroom

is not only not harmful, it’s mandatory. Cut the head into fist-sized portions and brush off debris and bugs outside. Fill your sink with water, then cut each section open, cleaning as you go. Although not seemingly eaten by critters, many bugs favor the nooks and crannies. If you ever harvest enough, this mushroom dries almost as well as morels.

Sparassis Turkey Tetrazzini

12 oz. egg noodles
1 lb. Sparassis, chopped
4 C. cooked turkey, chopped coarsely
1 C. frozen peas, thawed
6 T. butter
1 large shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 C. flour

2 bay leaves
1 1/2 C. milk
1/4 C. cream
2 C. chicken broth
1/4 C. dry sherry
Salt and pepper
Fresh nutmeg
1/2 C. bread crumbs
1/2 C. freshly grated Parmesan

  • Preheat oven to 375 F.
  • Cook pasta in 3-4 quarts well-salted boiling water until just short of al-dente. Drain.
  • Meanwhile, saute the Sparassis in a large pan with 1/4 C. butter over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.
  • Add the shallot, garlic and bay leaves. Saute for 3-4 minutes or until translucent.
  • Add the flour and cook another 3-4 minutes.
  • Slowly add the milk and cream, whisking continuously, then the broth, then the sherry. Generously add salt and pepper to taste, then a couple fresh grates of nutmeg. Simmer for another 5 minutes.
  • Gently combine the pasta, mushroom sauce and peas and sauce in a large bowl.
  • Spoon the mixture into a buttered 9- by 13-inch baking pan and smooth out with a spoon.
  • Sprinkle with bread crumbs and Parmesan.
  • Bake 30-40 minutes until the sauce bubbles and a top crust has formed.