This was a fairly successful experiment. Next time I make it (and there will definitely be a next time!) I’ll be sure to 1) use thicker slices of puffball and 2) add shredded mozzarella between layers. Because I wanted the mushrooms to really shine, I used a simple tomato sauce and an immersion blender to achieve a fairly smooth texture.
Fresh puffball, sliced about 1″ thick, enough to make two or three layers in a 13×9 pan (or multiple smaller pans.) To make a thick, 13×9 pan you’ll need at least 12 (and maybe even 18) slices of puffball about the size of a smallish slice of bread.
2 eggs, beaten
Bread crumbs – dry and fine
One large can (appx 29 oz) diced tomatoes and one smaller (appx 15 oz)
Small can of tomato paste
Medium onion, pulverized in food processor or minced very finely.
2 cloves garlic, minced
Fresh herbs – oregano, basil, parsley, to taste, chopped
Splash of white wine if you have it
Salt, pepper and Italian herb mixture
Shredded mozzarella cheese
Grated Parmesan cheese
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Grease a 13×9 baking dish (or two smaller dishes if you wish).
2. For breaded mushroom slices: Season breadcrumbs with a few shakes of Italian herb blend, pepper and a little salt. Beat eggs, and add a generous tablespoon of olive oil. Blend well. Dip mushroom slices in egg, shake off excess, and then lay in bread crumbs. Press gently so crumbs adhere to the mushroom slice, turn over, and repeat. Lay breaded slice on parchment-lined cookie sheet. When all slices are done, bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes until the crumbs start to darken, and the slices feel firm and the breading crispy.
3) For the sauce: While slices are baking, heat about a quarter cup of olive oil in a sauce pan over medium heat, and add the the pulverized onion, and saute until soft. Olive oil adds important flavor to the sauce, which is why I used a generous quarter cup. Add garlic, cook another few minutes. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, and a little wine. Add herbs and simmer for about 20 minutes. Buzz in a food processor, blender or with an immersion blender until texture is fairly smooth. If sauce is too thick, a little water (or olive oil) can be added to thin it.
4) Assemble: Spoon about a cup of sauce on the bottom of the baking dish. Lay mushroom slices on top, covering the pan completely (small gaps around edges etc. are fine.) Sprinkle with a little parmesan, and then mozzarella. Repeat layers, finishing with mozzarella on top.
5) bake at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes until bubbly and cheese starts to brown.