The cheese souffle was created in France in the late 1800s, before people became aware of the health risks of a fat-rich diet. A classic cheese souffle is made with a trio of fattening ingredients - eggs, butter and cheese - which make up 68 percent of the calories in the dish.
There are few ingredients, other than a splash of milk and a few tablespoons of flour, to cut the proportion of fat. A single serving has more than 18 grams of fat and 246 calories.
However, with a little tweaking, even souffle can be made lighter. In this recipe for Lighter Cheese Souffle, cornmeal takes the place of egg yolks and flour. The butter has been completely eliminated, replaced by a third the quantity of olive oil.
Yet, Lighter Cheese Souffle still has the rich, cheesy flavor of the original because it contains a full cup of cheese. It also has the same delightful, puffy texture because it is made with whipped egg whites, which contain no fat or cholesterol.
As a bonus, the revamped recipe makes more than the original, so you get five (6-ounce) servings instead of just four.
For people who are on very strict diets, the recipe for Lighter Cheese Souffle could be made lighter still. To further reduce the fat and calories, you could eliminate the olive oil and use a half-cup of cheese. However, the dish would lose some of its satisfactory flavor.
Lighter Cheese Souffle
Nonstick cooking spray
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/4 cup cornmeal
1 cup skim milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
Dash cayenne pepper
1 cup (4 ounces) grated sharp Cheddar cheese
3 egg whites
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 1-quart souffle dish or 5 (6-ounce) souffle cups with the nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a large sauce pan, then stir in the cornmeal. Cook until the cornmeal begins to sizzle, about 1 minute. Stir in the skim milk, salt and cayenne pepper and cook over medium to medium-low heat until the mixture bubbles. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and stir in the cheese. Set aside.
With an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until stiff. (Egg whites are stiff when the mixture doesn’t slide when the bowl is tipped.) Using a rubber spatula, stir one-third of the egg whites into the cornmeal mixture. Fold the second third of the egg whites into the cornmeal mixture, making sure the egg whites are evenly distributed. Fold in the remaining whites until the mixture looks fluffy.
Pour into the prepared dish or dishes and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top is brown. (If using souffle cups, place them on a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan to protect the oven floor in case of spillovers.)
Yield: 5 servings.
Nutrition information per serving: 150 calories, 8 grams protein, 11 grams carbohydrate, 8 grams fat (48 percent fat calories), 17 milligrams cholesterol, 351 milligrams sodium.
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