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One of my new favorite magazines is Cooking Light, because it offers foodies like me ways to cut calories and fat in all my favorite dishes. There’s even a way to make donuts more healthful! (Keep that oil at 375˚F to keep your donuts from getting greasy.)
I spied a Parmesan and Eggplant Souffle recipe in CL’s June 2010 issue, but it seemed a little off. I’ve spent a lot of time with Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking and, if you know anything about French cooking, you know that the French really know how to make soufflés, and pretty much anything else with eggs. Julia Child gives precise direction on how to make soufflé in her book, and the soufflé from Cooking Light just didn’t seem to have that soufflé magic I was looking for.
So, in my quest to count calories but eat the yummiest possible meal, I combined the two recipes. I kept the vegetables and low-fat milk from Cooking Light, and added a few extra eggs and some butter from Julia Child’s recipe.
More than the ingredients it’s my method that most resembles Julia’s. Cooking Light’s recipe calls for simply whipping the egg whites with a whisk, but I think of a soufflé as a dramatic, elegant, over-the-top egg puff. To get that dramatic height, the egg whites have to be whipped into beautiful stiff peaks and gently folded into the béchamel sauce and vegetables as Julia called for.
I think you’ll find this recipe a perfect compromise. You really can eat light and well.
Two Cheese Eggplant Soufflé
Sweating the eggplant removes the bitter juices so they don’t water down the soufflé. If you don’t like eggplant, swap in another vegetable like zucchini or spinach. For a print copy of this recipe, click here.
1 medium sweet (Vidalia) onion, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1 small to medium eggplant
½ Tbs. oregano
3.5 Tbs. butter
¼ c. flour
2 c. low-fat milk
½ tsp. red pepper flake
7 egg whites
6 egg yolks
¼ c. Swiss cheese
½ c. plus 3 Tbs. Parmigiano Reggiano or high-quality Parmesan
Special equipment: Souffle dish
Prep eggplant. Cut eggplant into thick slices and place on layer of paper towels. Sprinkle kosher salt all over both sides of the eggplant and let sit for at least 30 minutes, preferably an hour, flipping half way through. With a damp towel or rag, wipe away excess salt on eggplant. Cut into ½–in. to 1-in. cubes.
Saute veggies. Preheat oven 400˚F. Butter mold and sprinkle with cheese. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add 1 c. eggplant, diced pepper and onion and sauté until tender, about 10 minutes. Season with oregano, salt and pepper. Set aside. Meanwhile, warm milk in small saucepan on stovetop.
Make béchamel. Melt butter in skillet. Whisk in flour, stirring 2 minutes to combine. Whisk in hot milk, and season with salt and pepper. Bring mixture to a boil, whisking all the while. Boil for one minute until thickened. Remove from heat, stir in red pepper flake.
Separate eggs. Stir yolks into cooling milk mixture, whisking with each addition. Stir in veggies. NOTE: Sauce can be prepared ahead to addition of egg yolks. Dot the top with butter or place plastic wrap on top to prevent a film from forming.
Fold in egg whites and bake. Whip egg whites and a pinch of salt until stiff with a hand mixer or stand mixer. Stir a quarter of the egg whites into the yolk-milk mixture, followed by all but 1-2 Tbs. of the parmesan. Working in three batches, fold in the rest of the egg whites. Turn mixture into mold. Sprinkle with leftover cheese. Put soufflé on middle rack in oven and immediately drop the temperature to 375˚F. Cook for 20 to 25 minutes, without opening oven. When a long skewer comes out clean and the top is puffed and brown, the soufflé is ready. Serve immediately.
NOTE: It is possible to keep the soufflé warm and mostly puffed in a still-warm oven for about 20 to 30 minutes. Simply turn off the heat and leave the soufflé in the oven.