spinach souffle

Soufflés are often under-looked and seem overwhelming for all the wrong reasons. If you are using a good recipe and can actually not open the oven door while it cooks, they are pretty fool proof (even without the proper equipment).

The make weekday dinners seem special, a welcome change on the frittata brunch and are great for any kind of entertaining.

Can you think of any other meal that can get such “wows” for so little $$?

mushrooms, spinach, cheese - souffle prep

This one puffed up beautifully without a soufflé-dish or even an electric mixer to beat the whites.  Granted it didn’t spill over the top exactly, but not bad for an improv in a regular pot.

A cheese soufflé is a classic in it’s simplicty, but I wanted to add some umph with extra veggies (and skip on making a salad) – and spinach and mushrooms work great.

And knowing that I would likely eat this with some added spice (I am a sucker for salsa with anything eggy), I added ortega chiles to the soufflé base to bring it all together.

making spinach souffle

You can eat it as is with a fork, but my personal favorite is inside a warm, slightly burnt corn tortilla with homemade salsa.  A little soufflé taco if you will…

souffle and tortillas

If all my meals could be a similar little French/Mexi mix, I’d be a happy camper!

spinach souffle

Spinach, Mushroom and Ortega Soufflé
adapted from Ina Garten’s Spinach-Cheddar Soufflé in House Beautiful

NOTES: Regarding the frozen spinach, I think the standard package is 10 oz. The one I used was larger at 16 oz. – either work, it just depends on how spinach-y you want it. You can also use fresh spinach, but it will take quite a bit of spinach cooked down and drained to yield the same amount. If using fresh, cook and chop and drain prior to adding it to the soufflé mixture. Otherwise the water the leaves emit would weigh down your soufflé.

As for the mushrooms, while I normally chop them fairly large, here you want them thinly sliced so they can be easily incorporated and suspend within the soufflé.

Serves 4

3 T. unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing the dish
3 T. all-purpose flour
1 cup hot milk
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of cayenne pepper
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large package (10 oz.) cremini mushrooms, cleaned and thinly sliced
1 T. olive oil
6 large eggs, at room temperature plus one additional egg white
¾ cup coarsely grated sharp cheddar cheese, lightly packed
¼ c. finely grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for sprinkling
1 package frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
1 4 oz. can mild diced green chiles

Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Butter the inside of one 6-to-8-cup soufflé dish and sprinkle evenly with parmesan. (If you do not have a soufflé dish, you can also use a straight sided baking dish or here I even used a straight sided pot.)

In a large sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium heat and add mushrooms. Cook until they have lost all their moisture and browned slightly, about 12 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

While the mushrooms are cooking, separate the eggs. Whisk together the yolks and set aside the whites for use later.

Melt 3 T. butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes.

Briefly remove the pan from the heat, whisk in the hot milk, nutmeg, cayenne, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Cook over low heat, whisking constantly, for one minute, until smooth and thick.

Off the heat, but while still hot, mix in the egg yolks. Stir in the cheeses, spinach, cooked mushrooms, and chiles and transfer to a large mixing bowl.

Put the egg whites and a pinch of salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on low speed for one minute, on medium speed for one minute, then finally on high speed until firm, glossy peaks are formed.

Or, if doing it by hand, using a whisk, beat the whites together for as long as you can stand it and peaks have formed (about 6-8 minutes). I usually give up before they get to the glossy stage when going the manual route.

Whisk one-quarter of the egg whites into the cheese sauce to lighten, and then gently fold in the rest in two batches.

Pour the mixture into the prepared soufflé dish, then smooth the top. Draw a large circle on top with the spatula and place in the middle of the oven. Turn the temperature down to 375 degrees. Bake for 35 minutes until puffed and brown. (DO NOT open oven during this time!!)

Serve immediately.

Additional NOTE: To make in advance, prepare the recipe through the addition of the cheese and veggies. You can do this up to 2 hours ahead. Keep mixture covered at room temperature, and then proceed with the recipe just before baking.