Last Wednesday I went for a walk in the fields and came across three gleaming white little puffball mushrooms, each about the size of a golf ball. I’ve found them before, and even picked a few, but never had the ambition to actually do anything with them. However, after last Saturday’s five-course meal at the Wild Garlic – wherein Matthew Beardshall served me a grilled puffball mushroom with roasted artichokes, shallots and kale, quite possibly the best vegetarian main dish I’ve ever had in my life, ever – I was inspired.
There aren’t many recipes around for dainty puffball mushrooms like these, but I’d read that they go well with eggs. I really didn’t have many mushrooms to spare so I decided a simple approach was best: sliced and pan-fried in a bit of butter, then tossed with salt and pepper.
Once the mushrooms were cooked, I fried an egg while dry-grilling a few tomatoes, something I learned last Tuesday at Yotam Ottolenghi’s masterclass at the Vegetarian Cookery School. The whole lot went on a nest of curly kale, scattered with chives. I must admit, it looked pretty good:
But how did it taste? Puffballs have a unique flavour that’s almost smokey, and a lovely spongy texture that doesn’t go watery. The large puffball at Wild Garlic had an almost paneer-like texture. These smaller ones were a bit dryer, but had the same earthy flavour and went very nicely with the slightly runny fried egg and dark greens.
It’s also worth pointing out that I picked and ate wild mushrooms and didn’t die. I’m hoping to find some more puffballs this weekend for round two.