leek, ham, and pecorino souffles for let's lunch

This month I finally bit the bullet and signed up for a CSA-style organic fruit and veggie delivery. When I shared my excitement on twitter, I received a warning: You will receive leeks. Lots and lots of leeks.

sliced leeks

Leeks? Really? I hadn't cooked with leeks a whole lot but thought, hey, they look like over-sized scallions. In fact leeks belong to the same family as onions. But unlike onions which grow in a bulb formation, leeks grow in long bundled tubes. I could handle em. On delivery day, I raced home excited to see my loot. I unloaded my box and discovered a few apples, lettuce, chard, cabbage, a pack of moldy strawberries (ugh), and... as predicted... leeks.

I let them sit on the kitchen table while I considered what to do with them. In the end I decided on the perfect brunch dish: a leek, ham, and cheese souffle. The recipe is simple to make. The most difficult part is recognizing when the egg whites are whipped enough. My rule of thumb is to submerge the whisk in the egg whites and pull it back out again. When you turn the whisk upright, the peek should retain its shape. If it folds, continue whisking.

I also liked the versatility of the ingredients. If you don't have leeks you could easily swap in two cups of any type of onion. Leeks give the souffle a mild, almost sweet onion taste and hold their shape (and texture) more than onions. But I could see red onions or even shallots being killer too. Same with the cheese. Don't have pecorino? Use gruyere, or asiago, etc...  whatever your favorite cheese is.

leek, ham, and pecorino souffle

These leek, ham, and pecorino souffles have a wonderful flavor and texture. The fragrance of the thyme, the saltiness of the ham, the lightness of the eggs, and the bright almost neon pops of color from the leeks made this the perfect brunch treat... All it needs is a mimosa on the side. Cheers!

leek, ham, and pecorino souffles, gluten free

Recipe Type: brunch
Author: charissa luke
Serves: 4

Adapted from Samantha Seneviratne's leek and bacon souffle recipe in Fine Cooking magazine.

Ingredients

  • Unsalted butter, softened, for the baking dish
  • 2.5 oz diced ham
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 cups thinly sliced leeks (light-green and white parts only, from about 1-2 medium leeks)
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 2.5 oz. cream cheese, cubed
  • 1/2 cup grated pecorino cheese
  • 3 large eggs, separated, plus 1 large white
  • 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar

Instructions

  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 325°F. Butter an 6x6-inch baking dish.
  2. In a 12-inch nonstick skillet, cook the ham over medium heat until golden brown, about 8 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a large bowl. Add butter to the skillet, then add the leeks. Reduce the heat to medium low, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the leeks to the ham and stir in the thyme and pinch each of salt and pepper.
  3. Gently warm the milk in the skillet over medium-low heat. Stir in the cream cheese and Asiago and whisk until melted and combined. Add the milk mixture to the leeks and bacon and stir to combine and cool slightly. Gently mix in the egg yolks; set aside.
  4. In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar with an electric hand mixer on high speed to medium-stiff peaks. With a large spatula, gently fold the egg whites into the leek and ham mixture.
  5. Pour the mixture into the prepared dish and bake until puffed and golden-brown on top, 25 to 30 minutes. Serve immediately—the soufflé will deflate as it cools.

This recipe is part of this month’s Let’s Lunch theme of egg-inspired dishes. Before you go, check out my fellow lunchers’ posts below. And if you’d like to join us, go to Twitter and post a message with the hashtag #Letslunch, or post a comment below.

Comments

So enjoy your photographs, especially the one of sliced leeks. And the Souffle looks fantastic. I haven't done a CSA; I like the idea of being inspired by what shows up, even moreso than by what's at the farmer's market. I'm going to check out your post on pandan tapioca with coconut cream.

Thank you for the sweet comment Nancy! My next CSA box comes on Wednesday so I'm excited to see what we get. Hopefully no more moldy strawberries! I do like that the CSA forces me out of my comfort zone in trying things I might not normally choose.

I love anything in the onion family, so this dish together with another fav eggs is a must try. Never made souffle. Yours looks light and fluffy, thanks for inspiration. Happy Easter.

Lovely souffle! I loved the CSA when I subscribed. I never had the leek problem, but the moldy strawberry problem was recurrent.

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