Soufflé de Quinoa
Nothing takes the fear out of making a soufflé like making three in a row. I found a recipe for one combined with amaranth that I couldn’t wait to try. My training for this year’s New York City marathon is nearing the 20-mile mark so I’ve been cooking up batches of amaranth to have on hand for cereal topped with honey and fruit. While adding eggs and cheese may not be the best way to enjoy my vitamin high grain, it sounded wonderful and I’d been so good.
I used the last of the Roncal for the base and whipped up the egg whites to beak-of the-bird perfection. I set it in the oven and congratulated myself on having an early night before a long run. Then I realized that my whites may have been perfect but I’d forgotten to fold them before putting it the mold into the oven. The egg yolks and cheese base just sat there, unsure of what to do next. It was too late for my soufflé but I had some cooked amaranth left and just enough Gruyere to make another one. My early night gone, I rushed. Folding in my next batch of less than perfect egg whites, it still puffed up as hoped and I finally had my (now late) dinner. Loving the way the tiny grains disappeared into the eggs like polenta, I was excited to try it again with quinoa.
Originally cultivated in the Andes approximately 5,000 years ago, quinoa is actually a seed in grains’ clothing. A staple crop for the Incas, their rulers ceremoniously planted the first row with golden implements at the start of each growing season. Packed with protein, fiber and amino acids, it’s a nearly complete food. Quinoa can be buff or black but I thought red, sometimes sold as “Inca Red”, would be a nice contrast. With all the time in the world and some unexpected practice, I wasn’t as apprehensive. I’m not sure if noise really brings down a soufflé but I can attest that this one survived a double-Yorkie barking attack. While not creamy like the amaranth, it retained just enough snap from the quinoa to keep it interesting. Third time is the charm.
Soufflé de Quinoa/Quinoa Soufflé
Barely adapted from Maria Baez Kijac’s The South American Table. Quinoa should be thoroughly rinsed in cold water, 2-3 times, to remove any trace of bitterness caused by saponin, a naturally occurring insecticide coating the grain. The original recipe called for one cup of cooked amaranth which can be easily substituted for the quinoa. Click here for a great article on beating egg whites and fearless souffle making.
2 tablespoons bread crumbs
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons unbleached, all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup hot milk
4 large eggs, separated
4 ounces Gouda, Gruyere, or Roncal cheese, finely shredded
2 cups cooked quinoa, red, buff, or black
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Generously butter a 6-8 cup ceramic mold with butter and sprinkle it with bread crumbs. Make sure that the bottom and sides are completely covered and shake out the excess.
To make the roux, melt the butter over medium heat in a small saucepan. Beat in the flour with a wooden spoon and cook until foamy but not browned, about 2 minutes. Off heat, add the hot milk, whisking constantly to incorporate. Return to a boil over medium heat and cook until just thickened, about one minute and remove from heat. Immediately add the seasonings. Beat in the egg yolks one at a time. Stir in the cheese until melted and add the cooked quinoa. Empty into a large mixing bowl and set aside.
In a separate bowl or using a stand mixer, whip the egg whites to until foamy. Add a pinch of salt and 1/8 teaspoon of cream of tartar. Gradually increase speed to form stiff peaks.
Stir 1/4 of the beaten egg whites into the quinoa mixture to lighten it. Gently fold in the rest of the egg whites. Pour the mixture into the prepared mold. Place in the oven and immediately lower temperature of 375°F. Bake until puffed and golden, about 30-35 minutes. Leave in the oven an additional 5 minutes. Serve immediately.