Victor Protasio

The star of Food Network’s Barefoot Contessa shares a vegetarian dish “that comes out perfectly every single time.”

Ina Garten’s Spinach Cheddar Soufflé

3 tbsp. unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing the dish
¼ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for sprinkling
3 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 cup scalded milk
¼ tsp. nutmeg
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 extra-large egg yolks, at room temperature
½ cup grated aged cheddar cheese, lightly packed
1 pkg. frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
5 extra-large egg whites, at room temperature
⅛ tsp. cream of tartar

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter the inside of a 6-to-8-cup soufflé dish (6½ to 7 ½ inches in diameter by 3 ½ inches deep), and sprinkle evenly with Parmesan.

2. Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan over low heat. With a wooden spoon, stir in the flour, and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Off the heat, whisk in the hot milk, the nutmeg, cayenne, ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Cook over low heat, whisking constantly, for 1 minute, until smooth and thick.

3. Off the heat, while still hot, whisk, in the egg yolks, one at a time. Stir in the cheddar, ¼ cup of Parmesan and the spinach; transfer to a large mixing bowl.

4. Put the egg whites, cream of tartar and a pinch of salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on low speed for 1 minute, on a medium speed for 1 minute, then finally on high speed until they form firm, glossy peaks.

5. Whisk one quarter of the egg whites into the cheese sauce to lighten, then fold in the rest. Pour into the soufflé dish, then smooth the top. Draw a large circle on top with the spatula to help the Soufflé rise evenly, and place in the middle of the oven. Turn the temperature down to 375 degrees. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes (don’t peek!) until puffed and brown. Serve immediately.

Serves: 2 to 3
Active time: 25 minutes
Total time: 1 hour