Inspired and adapted from Deborah Madison's Local Flavors (Broadway 2002), this was the first souffle recipe I attempted. It involves a straightforward and, dare I say, fairly easy preparation. It's perfect for spring, when asparagus is in season.
Makes 6 servings
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 shallot, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary
1 cup cream
1 bunch asparagus, washed and chopped, with woody ends removed
12 ounces loose spinach leaves
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus extra for the dish
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon salt
4 large egg yolks
Pepper to taste
6 large egg whites
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 6-cup souffle or gratin dish and dust it with a few tablespoons of the Parmesan.
Put the shallot, rosemary and cream in a small saucepan over low heat. Bring slowly to a boil, then turn off the heat, cover, and let steep for 15 minutes. Strain out the rosemary.
Meanwhile, in a small frying pan in about a tablespoon of water, steam the asparagus and spinach until wilted and soft. Place in a food processor and puree until smooth.
Melt the 4 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan, stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute while stirring. Whisk in the milk and stir until it thickens. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and stir in the remaining Parmesan. Turn off the heat and stir in the egg yolks, spinach and asparagus and the shallot-cream mixture. Season with pepper.
Beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until they form firm peaks but are still somewhat soft. Fold the whites into the base. Scrape the batter into the prepared dish and bake until golden brown and set, about 40 minutes. Serve immediately.