Mom’s Cheese and Spinach Soufflé
Note: This kind of soufflé has many advantages, the most important being that you can prepare the base mixture up to a day ahead, so there is no hectic last-minute preparation involved. Although it takes a little longer to cook than a standard soufflé and has a slightly less airy texture, it rises beautifully, browns well and is delicious. The soufflé is made in a gratin dish rather than a soufflé mold so that it cooks faster, is crustier and is easier to divide into portions. From “Jacques Pépin Quick & Simple” (2020, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
• 3 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. unsalted butter
• 3 tbsp. flour
• 1 1/4 c. cold milk
• 1/4 tsp. salt
• 1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
• 1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
• 3 c. baby spinach leaves
• 1 1/2 c. grated Gruyère or Beaufort cheese (about 4 oz.)
• 4 eggs, lightly beaten
• 3 tbsp. coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley or basil
Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in a medium saucepan over high heat. Add the flour and stir with a whisk until well combined and sizzling. Then whisk in the cold milk and bring to a boil, stirring and mixing with the whisk so the mixture doesn’t stick as it thickens. Boil for about 20 seconds, mixing continuously with the whisk. Add the salt, pepper and nutmeg and remove the pan from the heat.
Use remaining 1 teaspoon butter to grease the bottom of a 3- to 4-cup oval gratin dish. Place the spinach in a bowl and microwave for 2 minutes, or until wilted.
By now, the white sauce should have cooled a little. Add the spinach and cheese to it and mix with the whisk. Add the eggs and parsley and mix well. Pour the mixture into the prepared gratin dish. This step can be done a couple of hours ahead and the dish kept in the refrigerator until cooking time.
When you are ready to cook the soufflé, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the gratin dish on a baking sheet lined with nonstick aluminum foil for easy cleanup and bake for approximately 40 minutes, until well puffed and brown. Serve immediately.