cheese, leek & herb soufflé casserole
I’ve been thinking quite a bit about eggs lately — we seem to eat more and more as the temperatures slowly warm up. They lend themselves so well so light spring meals with herbs and fresh, delicate greens, and my sometimes-picky-eater toddler actually loves them, too.
she also loves shopping at the farmer’s market with me!
We’ve been visiting the market together every weekend morning and piling our baskets with all things green – baby lettuces, kale, herbs, scallions, spinach, and leeks. The herbs, leeks, and eggs have all met their destiny several times over the past month or two in this delicious soufflé, which was on the Easter menu in the April issue of Martha Stewart magazine. The minute I clamped eyes on the recipe, I knew I’d be making it STAT. Sauteed leeks, fresh spring herbs, gruyere, and fresh eggs? Yes, please!
Making this soufflé has reminded me that they’re not as difficult as their reputation suggests. I’ve actually made the soufflé base ahead of time, then whipped up the egg whites right before I’m ready to bake it. We’ve enjoyed it as a light dinner several times, and the leftovers are so delicious for lunch.
I’ve served the soufflé alongside a salad with baby lettuces and a light vinaigrette, Ina’s maple roasted bacon, and the oven browns (oven-roasted hash browns), also from the same MS issue. In these days when I sometimes feel like I’m tailoring my menus towards our finicky little one, it was a much-needed culinary victory to see her enjoying the meal just as much as we were. And…it would make a fabulous brunch or lunch for Mother’s Day!
Happy Mother’s Day to my mom and to all the moms out there!
Cheese, Leek & Herb Souffle Casserole
from Martha Stewart April 2012
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 stick unsalted butter, plus more for dish
- 1 pound large leeks (white and pale-green parts only), quartered lengthwise, cut into thin slices (4 cups), and rinsed well
- Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
- ½ cup plus 2 ounces Parmesan cheese, finely grated
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 1/2 cups whole milk
- 6 large eggs, separated
- 5 1/2 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated (1 1/2 cups)
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh chives
- Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat until it melts, then add the leeks. Cook, stirring frequently, until softened and bright green, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper; let cool. (Leeks can be made 1 day ahead and refrigerated.)
- Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Cut strips of parchment 4 inches wide and long enough to form a collar around inside of dish. Butter 1 side of parchment, and press unbuttered side against inside of dish. (Ends should overlap, and parchment should extend 2 inches above top of dish.) Place 1/2 cup Parmesan in dish, and coat sides well. Pour out and discard excess cheese.
- Melt 1 stick butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat, then add flour and cook, whisking constantly, until thoroughly combined and hot, about a minute or two. Remove the pan from the heat and gradually whisk in the milk, bit by bit, until the batter is very smooth. Add 1 teaspoon salt and season with pepper. Return pan to medium heat and cook, whisking frequently, until souffle base is smooth, shiny, and thick — anywhere from about 7-12 minutes. [I’ve made it ahead to this point and refrigerated it a day in advance; just warm the base up again before proceeding.]
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Transfer souffle base to a bowl, and beat in egg yolks, 1 at a time, with a mixer on medium speed, increasing speed to high for 10 seconds after each addition to thoroughly incorporate. After last yolk is added, beat 20 seconds on high speed, then scrape down side of bowl. Add Gruyere, the remaining Parmesan, the leeks, and herbs, and beat until well combined.
- Beat egg whites with 1/2 teaspoon salt until stiff peaks form. Fold whites into souffle base, one third at a time, folding gently but thoroughly (a few streaks of whites are fine). Spoon souffle mixture into dish, and bake until puffed and golden, 35 to 40 minutes.