Remember, never eat anything you are not 100% sure of. I take no responsibility for what happens to you if you eat something you incorrectly identify.
This spring has been an extraordinarily good year for Dryad Saddles (Pheasant Backs, P. Squamosa). They are an edible species, but the firmness and scent of watermelon rind turns people off. I have found that they are actually a fairly versatile mushroom and can be used as a potato substitute in making fries. I wanted to experiment a little further to see if I can come up with other uses. I suspect that with proper seasoning, Dryads are kind of the tofu of the mushroom world.
I had a nice pile of fresh Dryads. I rinsed, trimmed and chopped them up before I put it in the food processor. I pulsed it until they looked like this. MMMM. Dryad Crumbled. Ground Dryad? Dryad tar tar…. Anyway, I added some coconut flour. Why? Because I had it. That’s why. I’m flippant like that. You could use any sort of edible powder to bind it. I had planned on using powdered oatmeal, but my hands found the coconut in the pantry first. I put a couple of eggs, some diced garlic, diced onions, and dried cilantro in it. My original idea was to make burger patties out of it, but I had just been to an amazing Lebanese deli and had some really nice authentic pita and garlic hummus. Who doesn’t love falafel? (If you don’t love falafel, you should probably move along… I don’t like your kind)
The problem I ran into is that I had no tahini. I poked around in my fridge, and for whatever reason decided that ranch dressing and lemon juice would be a good alternative (it isn’t, just an FYI). I added it to the mixture and ran my food processor until it was a smooth putty like consistency (not the most aesthetically appealing verbiage, I know, but my mental thesaurus isn’t operating at maximum capacity).
Once it was a consistent, smooth mixture, a stopped and called it good.
I used my handy dandy falafel patty maker to make all of the patties ahead of time. I got mine at the same Lebanese deli I got the pita and hummus from, though it was a long time ago. If you are ever in the St., Louis area, you MUST go to Al Tarboush Deli in the Delmar Loop. So good. I guess you could wing it with a cookie cutter or egg form or something. Since I happen to have a handy dandy falafel patty maker, I’ve never given it any real thought as to how one would make them without it. Sorry.
I didn’t want to deep fry them (I’m not the biggest fan of fried foods and have been looking for alternative methods) so I thought maybe pan cooking them would work. I’ll spare you the picture of the results, but I was compelled to dig it a grave and plant flowers. I finally decided to try the oven and it worked amazingly well!! They came out golden brown, cohesive; all that you would want in a falafel or burger patty. Here are the finished products.
I should note, however, that the ranch killed it, and not in the hipster “bad is good” kind of way. The texture was spot on, very mild hint of the dryads, but it melded with the cilantro in a very pleasant way. The RANCH. Nope. Not working. Terrible idea. I own it.
Taste is subjective, though, and my youngest (whom I have accused of snorting ranch powder) thought they were amazing. Honestly, if I hadn’t been expecting Lebanese falafel, I wouldn’t have been so disappointed; they weren’t bad, just not what I wanted. The plus side to this, is that if you season accordingly, you can use dryads (and I suspect a great many other mushrooms) as a meat substitute by turning it into mushroom crumble, adding some binding agents like flour and eggs, and then form and bake. I have some ideas about the next decent chicken I find. I’m thinking something along the lines of chicken burgers.
We often get in a rut with mushrooms of fry or sauté… that gets a whole lot old. With a decent food processor and some experimentation, you can form the mushrooms into loafs, burgers, balls… whatever. I hope you try some experimentation, and then let me know how it turns out.
Vive les champignons !!!!