Puffballs can be tricky to work with. Sauteing them can get oily and heavy fast, and not browning them, well, is just not going to taste good at all. One of my favorite things to do is to cook slices of the mushroom and use like sheets of fresh pasta. I've really enjoyed cannelloni and ravioli, but especially this lasagna that I'm sharing with you today.
There's a few sub-recipes, but they're all easy and only have a couple ingredients. Once you make the bechamel and tomato sauces you're really good to go. To make things even easier, I did a little assembling tutorial for you, see the slideshow above.
What you end up with is as hunger pain inducing and comforting as any lasagna I've had. Also, if you have a family of puffball or mushroom skeptics or picky kids, this will win them over, rest assured. If you aren't looking for the puffball flavor, you might think the noodles are extra tender, but my guess is some people might not even know the difference since it's hard to make tomato sauce and cheese taste bad. Now go off and imagine all the other things you can make using puffballs like pasta.
Using a combo of puffball mushrooms and noodles
Make sure you love puffballs if you want to use puffballs as the only "noodles" here. This is a very rich dish that will eat like meat, since, mushrooms are richer than noodles. If you find the taste of puffballs strong for you, consider using a combination of puffball slices and regular noodles or something like sliced potatoes or squash as in my squash and puffball gratin.
Puffball Lasagna Layer Crib Sheet
Reading how to put the layers together can seem complex, but it isn't. Here's a cheat sheet if you need.
- Spinach Filling
- Spinach Filling
- Tomato+Bechamel+Mozzarella and Parmesan
Puffball Mushroom Lasagna
- 1 9 inch pie dish
- 1 lb puffball mushroom About the size of a canteloupe. Peeled and cut into ½ inch slices.
- Flavorless cooking oil as needed for cooking the puffballs
- Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
Tomato sauce Yields 3 cups, I used about half (save it for reheating)
- 1 32 ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
- 1 small yellow onion diced to yield ½ cup
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2-3 large leaves of fresh basil torn
- Kosher salt to taste
- Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes optional
- ¼ cup dry white wine
Bechamel Sauce Yields 2.5 cups, I used about half (save it for reheating)
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 2 cups whole milk
- ¼ cup grated parmesan
- Kosher salt to taste
- Pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
- 1 lb spinach blanched in boiling salted water, shocked in an ice bath and drained well, then chopped fine
- 1 lb highest quality ricotta cheese
- 1 large egg
- ½ lb semi-firm mozzarella or grated mozzarella, plus more for finishing the top of the lasagna
- ¼ cup grated parmesan plus more for finishing the top of the lasagna
- Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
- Heat the oil with the garlic and onions and cook until translucent on medium heat. Add the tomatoes, wine, basil, a pinch of salt and the red pepper flakes, then simmer the mixture gently for 30 minutes. Puree the mixture carefully in a highspeed blender while still hot, then pass through a fine chinois strainer (optional) and reserve until needed.
- Melt the butter then add the flour to form a roux, cook on medium heat until it smells toasty, the add the milk in four separate ¼ cup additions, whisking well to make sure the milk is incorporated before adding the next ¼ cup. When all the milk has been added and the sauce has thickened nicely, remove it from the heat and whisk in the salt and nutmeg to taste, then the parmesan. Transfer the sauce to a container to cool.
- Mix all ingredients together until combined.
Assembling the Puffball Lasagna
- First, cook the puffball slices. You can do this a number of different ways, but I like to rub them with oil or melted butter and cook each slice of puffball mushroom on the stove in a cast iron skillet, if you're in an apartment, you may want to open the windows and turn off the smoke detector for that. Alternately, grease and bake, or grill until wilted.
- Preheat the oven to 350. When all the puffball slices are cooked, liberally spread the bottom of the baking dish with tomato sauce, and top with a ¼ cup or so of the bechamel.
- Place a layer of sliced puffball mushroom on top, then top that with half of the spinach filling, then more tomato sauce and bechamel, then another layer of mushrooms, then the other half of the filling, then more tomato and bechamel, then another layer of mushrooms, then tomato, bechamel, and extra grated mozzarella and parmesan.
- When the lasagna is assembled, bake, uncovered until hot throughout and the crust is golden brown, about 45 minutes. If your oven isn't browing the top, turn up the heat for a couple minutes until it's all golden crusty and delicious.
- I used a 9 inch ceramic pie dish to make this, but you could use whatever baking dish you have, like or a cast iron skillet, etc, depending on how much you want to make.
- Make sure to eat leftovers within 3 days, and label and date the container containing it.
- Reheat leftover lasagna smothered with the extra tomato sauce and bechamel and baked.
- After cooling and setting, the lasagna can be portioned and frozen.
- If you want perfect slices, like I have pictured here, you'll need to cook and chill the lasagna a day in advance so it will set properly.
- You can, of course, make the exact recipe, and it will be great, but you can also just use it as inspiration and make your own. With the variable size of puffballs, you might find yourself needing to make a giant, or smaller batch of lasagna.
Nice Tastemade youtube video of you! Hopefully it will help you get the recognition you deserve.
Hey thanks! You actually saw the video before I did. The producers didn't even tell me it went live. There's a couple editing quirks I would've changed, but you give up a lot of control when you sign appearance releases.
I've been looking at your mushrooms recipes and I intend to try a few, especially this one! Thanks for the step by step guide that's very helpful. Great blog you have here.
Hey I just watched the Tastemade video- you and Sam Thayer are the rock stars of wild foods! I've got one I bet you haven't tried- turkey tail mushroom soup. I take turkey tails, blend with chicken stock in a Vitamix. Turkey tails blend easily and fast. The result is silky smooth and the flavor is very good. I expected the stock to be dry and pithy because of the chitin- like a sulfur shelf mushroom past it's prime. And I thought the flavor would be bitter because of the medicinal qualities. But it was very smooth and mild- similar to generic button mushrooms. The turkey tails add body to the stock. I just add to sauted chanterelles with a roux and some white wine for a great and quick mushroom soup. Easy to collect a bunch of turkey tails and then just put in a paper back in the pantry- no need to even dehydrate. 2 more things I've tried and like- purple coneflower made into tea. Take the leaves and process in a food processor with a pinch of baking soda, then freeze. Once frozen place on a dehydrator rack and wait a day before dehydrating. The processing and freezing breaks the cell walls and oxidizes the leaves. The baking soda seems to speed up the process. Then dehydrate and use as tea. The tea is very dark and the flavor is slightly sweet with a hint of banana. Next, I don't know if you have sweetroot or wild sweet ciciley? The roots are sweet with a slight anise flavor. But the green unopened flower buds are an explosion of flavor. Like an Altoids mint but better. They would be great in an ice cream or sorbet.
I'm curious how long it took you to make this. It took me 4 hours (last 45 minutes were spent baking, with occasional monitoring, but also some clean-up).
About an hour, I would estimate, not including baking. Cutting down prep time is easy if you make the tomato and bechamel the night before. The bechamel will sieze slightly but can be thinned with a touch of milk or water.
Made this today, and it took 1 hour of prep, and 30 minutes in the oven (ours was a little smaller, and split out into 4 individual servings), and about 20 minutes to clean up. The slowest part was frying the mushroom slices in a single pan -- consider using multiple pans.
Yes, “quick” is not a word that comes to mind when I think of lasagna. And yeah, it’s more efficient to bake or grill the slices, I’ll update that in the recipe.
This lasagna is very delicious, and rather decadent too (I haven't made lasagna with bechamel before). I thought it was a nice counterpoint to the excitement and hilarity of finding one of these very large mushrooms. Looking forward to the leftovers tomorrow!
Do you think this could be frozen? Maybe assembled and froze.
Yes of course.
How long and at what temperature would you bake the puffball slices?
For par-cooking, 350-400F until wilted, 15 min or so. You can also freeze them raw then cut into slices but they're stinky.
I made this with the first giant puffball I've ever found, or eaten. The puffball flavor was strong and I wasn't sure at first whether I did in fact like it. I've decided I do (though they don't make my top 5).
Great recipe overall. I think the lasagna was greatly improved by sitting in the refrigerator overnight, as that gave the puffball time to really soak up the tomato sauce (which was incredible, btw). Surprisingly, the "noodles" didn't get soggy and held up well while we worked our day through the dish over the course of a few meals. I hope to make this annually (though I don't see myself foraging puffballs more than once a year). One question: the puffballs did give off an unpleasant odor while the lasagna cooked. Is this typical?
Hi Emily, so, they shouldn't give off an unpleasant odor when they're perfect and fresh, but if you harvest one that's discolored in any way they definitely will. Make sure to only use pure-white puffballs. You will have a bit of a mushroom smell while it cooks, but it's never been unpleasant for me.