Don’t be afraid … try your hand at this veggie soufflé

This summer vegetable soufflé becomes a full meal when paired with a simple soup or salad.

It is no secret that this is my favorite time of year for vegetables. A visit to any farm stand or farmers market here in the South Valley will yield a plethora of items just in from the fields. The variety of colors, flavors and textures become my muse in the kitchen. This week, I share how many of these seasonal vegetables can find its way into a very tasty, healthy and economic dish.
Soufflé. The mere mention of this dish can strike fear into the heart of any home cook. You may hear warnings to restrict movement in the kitchen when one is baking or else your soufflé will meet a tragic demise and fall. Very intimidating! Be assured, unless you are doing your daily workout next to the oven, there will not be a problem.
Soufflé features a few classic cooking techniques. By adding the flour to the vegetables and cooking slightly, you are making a roux blanc. With the addition of the milk to this mixture, it becomes a thick béchamel, which also helps to hold the structure of the whipped egg whites. Mixing a little hot béchamel mixture into the egg yolks tempers them and prevents scrambling. And finally, incorporating mixtures into whipped egg whites by folding keeps them from deflating.
The recipe this week is fairly simple and easily increased or decreased if necessary. If you have not made a soufflé, this is a perfect opportunity while some great vegetables are in season. Be creative with the use of your summer vegetables in this recipe and adjust or substitute if you wish. This soufflé pairs well with a light soup or simple salad to make a full meal.
Summer Vegetable Soufflé
Serves 4
1 medium zucchini, coarsely shredded
2 roma tomatoes, peeled, seeded & diced
1 teaspoon salt (for osmosis)
1/4 cup butter
1/4 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
Kernels from 1 ear of corn
1/2 yellow or orange bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup flour
1 cup milk, heated
Dash of black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
Step 1: Place the zucchini and tomato in separate bowls and toss with 1/2 teaspoon of salt in each bowl. Set aside and allow osmosis to draw out excess water for 25 to 30 minutes.
Step 2: Melt butter in a sauté pan on medium low heat. Add the onion and sweat for five minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and continue the process for 90 seconds. Add the corn kernels and bell pepper to the sauté pan and cook five minutes, stirring occasionally. Rinse the zucchini and tomatoes in water, drain and squeeze out excess moisture; add to the sauté pan and continue cooking until all the vegetables are tender. Add the flour to the mixture and toss the vegetables to coat; cook for three minutes. Remove the sauté pan from the heat, stir in the milk, salt and pepper. Move the sauté pan back over the heat and continue stirring until it has thickened. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
Step 3: Separate the eggs whites and egg yolks. Beat the egg whites in a mixer until they form stiff peaks. Temper the egg yolks by gradually adding about 2/3 cups of the vegetable mixture while stirring; incorporate the tempered egg yolks into the vegetable mixture. Fold 1/4 of the egg whites into the vegetable mixture; fold the vegetable mixture into the egg whites along with the parmesan cheese.
Step 4: Move the oven rack to the lower middle shelf of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Butter and flour 8-ounce ramekins and fill with the soufflé mixture to just below the rim and set them on a sheet pan. Any excess may be placed in a custard cup or additional ramekin. Bake the soufflés for 35 to 40 minutes. Serve immediately.

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