I’m not a vegetarian, but the daily changing menu at the restaurant includes a fixed price vegetarian option. It’s fun for me to come up with creative vegetarian options, and it helps me be creative to work without meat. An old standby recipe I created are souffles made from semolina flour. I came across an old recipe for souffled gnocchi in a Sicilian cookbook I have, and adapted it to make larger souffles baked in ramekins or ring molds for the restaurant.
Typical souffle recipes have complex sounding methods involving making a bechamel sauce and other things. This recipe is easy and fool proof, and will change the way you think of souffles. All they are is pretty much three ingredients, water or stock, semolina, and whatever ingredient you are trying to showcase. Since morel season is fast approaching, I’m looking for ways to use up my dried stash. Alongside the souffles are a mix of ramps and other spring vegetables, which could be changed or added to depending on what you have on hand.
Dried Morel Souffles with Ramps and Spring Vegetables
The Morel Souffles
- 1 oz dried morels
- 1 3/4 cups water
- 1/3 cup semolina flour
- 4 large eggs separated
- Kosher salt and pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup grated cheese like parmigiano reggiano or a domestic parmesan
- 1/2 cup fresh shelling peas blanched for a minute in boiling salted water, shocked and cooled, or you could just use frozen peas too!
- Two fresh radishes thinly sliced and then quartered.
- Two to three ramp bulbs sliced. If you are using fresh ramps, feel free to chop some of their leaves finely and add that as well.
- Radish greens picked from the top of the radishes washed and dried.
- Preheat the oven to 375
- Heat the morels in the water with a pinch of salt and bring to a boil, then cool them in their liquid until you can handle them.
- Cut all the morels in half vertically, then agitate them in their liquid to remove any grit. Remove the morels, strain their liquid, and then recombine the two.
- Separate the morels into two equal piles, one for ugly misshapen ones, the other for pretty ones as a garnish with the vegetables.
- Chop the pile of less picturesque morels roughly, then add them back to their liquid.
Morel Souffle Mix
- Heat the morels in their liquid and then whisk in the semolina until thick, about 3-4 minutes, set this aside.
- Stir in the cheese to the semolina-morel mixture, then cool for a few minutes before adding the egg yolks.
- Beat the egg whites with a tiny pinch of salt in a cold bowl with beaters or in the bowl of a stand mixer until they double in volume and hold soft peaks.
- Gently fold the egg whites into the semolina and morel mixture using your hands (James Beard's preferred method) or with a spatula or wooden spoon, just make sure to stop mixing once the mixture is fully incorporated, as over-beating will make them lose volume in the oven.
- Grease 4 ramekins or custard dishes liberally, then add half a cup of souffle mixture to each one. If you have leftover souffle mixture, use it to top off the others.
- Bake the souffles until a cake tester comes out clean, this should take about 15-20 minutes depending on your oven. If you check on them and they are not done, just leave them in for another minute or two. You really want an attractive brown on top as well, so if you need to bump up the heat to 400 for a minute or two to finish them, that's fine.
- After you have removed the cooked souffles from the oven, heat a pan with a tbsp of oil or butter and saute the sliced ramps briefly for a min or two, then add the peas, reserved morels and lastly the radishes. Adjust the seasoning with a bit of salt and pepper, and then add 1/8 cup of white wine and a tbsp of butter, cook for a minute or two to evaporate some of the wine.
- Place some of the radish greens on each plate, followed by a souffle and then a spoonful or two of the peas, ramps, morels, and radishes. Serve immediately.