Soft, silky and umami; cubes of puffball can be cooked in a skillet on the stovetop or outdoors on a crackling campfire. Once golden, toss the warm puffball morsels with a handful of pumpkin seeds and a bright miso dressing for a taste and texture sensation. If you've found one of these giant funny-looking fungi in your field or lawn, you're in luck. Follow the links below to lots of cooking tips and other puffball recipes, too! (Skip to recipe.)
Fall is officially on the calendar now, and it's also sneaked into our yard when we weren't looking.
This week has been rainy and miserable here in northern Alberta, but last weekend was glorious. I really hope it wasn't the last one before wild 'n' woolly winter comes galloping in!
The sun melted through lacy gaps in the goldening trees, the crisp air swirled around us - awakening our senses, and every growing thing blazed with banners of rich autumn colours.
The garden and yard are decked out in glorious golds and greens.
And giant puffballs are popping up. My friend called that she had another one in her yard, so I charged on over to get it. This one was white and firm all the way through. Perfect for a puffball extravaganza.
The weather still seems just right for a few of these alien-looking mushroom delicacies to pop up in lawns or fields. If you find one, don't kick it apart (tempting though that might be!), but grab it and rush it to your kitchen for a gourmet treat.
How to Prepare Your Giant Puffball
Cut it through the center to make sure it's nice and white all the way through. (Make sure you don't see any markings of a stem or gills in the center - then it's not safe to eat.) The texture should be firm and smoothly white all the way through - like a damp, dense sponge. If it starts getting discoloured in the center it's also not good to eat - overripe and funky.
Peel your puffball - the leathery outer layer of skin will pull off easily, or cut it off with a knife. Trim off any brown bits, too.
Then slice up that snowy white puffball and it's ready for all sorts of delicious recipes.
Puffball has the most unique texture when cooked - pillowy and soft when sautéed, or tender and moist when breaded and baked (recipe coming soon for that version). It'a really great when sliced, then brushed with oil, salted and peppered, and pan-fried or grilled, too - eat the puffball steaks plain or top them with your favourite sauce.
You can cut puffball into cubes for this dish of silky, slurpy morsels of pan-seared puffball and crunchy pumpkin seeds all napped in a zippy vinaigrette made of miso paste, garlic and cider vinegar.
Last Sunday was the perfect day for a fire in the firepit (hopefully not the last of the season), so we cooked our puffball outdoors.
Of course, you can cook your puffball on the stovetop, too. You'll be missing the smoky campfire flavour, but it'll be delicious, just the same. There's no comparing that unique silky texture and mild mushroom flavour of a fantastic giant puffball feast.
I've had such fun coming up with recipes for these under-appreciated fungi.
Check out my first post on puffball mushrooms and how to identify them, plus many more tips on how to prepare them and freeze them:
Let's get cookin', baby!
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Kitchen Frau Notes: If you get a good puffball and can't use it all, cut off the bottom where it was attached to the ground, trim out any noticeable bad spots, but don't peel it, and keep it in loosely wrapped in a plastic bag (not tightly sealed) - it will last for up to 6 or 7 days in the fridge.
Don't ever wash a puffball - it'll soak up water like a sponge - just peel it and cut out any bad spots.
for the miso dressing:
- 2 tablespoons miso paste (use rice or chickpea miso for gluten free)
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 small clove garlic, pressed or finely minced
- ½ teaspoon sriracha or ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 tablespoon water
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
for the puffball bites:
- 3 tablespoons avocado oil (or other high-heat cooking oil)
- 8 cups (1 lb/45ogms) peeled, diced giant puffball, in ¾" (2cm) cubes
- ¼ cup pumpkin seeds
- 4 large handfuls of hearty salad greens (arugula, romaine lettuce, or spinach)
Make the dressing first so the garlic can marinate in the vinegar and lose some of its sharpness. In a small jar, mash together the miso paste, honey, garlic, and sriracha with a fork. Stir in the water. Add the apple cider vinegar and olive oil, screw on the lid and shake until the dressing is well blended.
Make the puffball bites. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium high heat (or over a grill set over a campfire for outdoor cooking). Add the cubed puffball and cook, stirring occasionally with a spatula, until the puffball cubes are nicely browned on at least two sides of most of the cubes. They will shrink considerably and soak up most of the oil. Add the pumpkin seeds and cook them together for two to three minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and drizzle with about half of the miso dressing. Toss to coat the puffball bites and pumpkin seeds well.
Put a handful of salad greens onto each plate, divide the puffballs on top, and pass the dressing for diners to add a bit more to taste.
Serves 4 as a side dish.
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