If you are just picking the first of the season’s spinach that maybe you have grown under cover why not consider using them to make this delicious spinach souffle. Although it seems like sacrilege not to just show the tender young leaves to the pan and then smother them in butter and ground black pepper it makes a welcome change to use them in a different way from this great recipe.

Spinach is often easier to grow early on in the year so long as you remember to water it; once the long hot summer days set in it always seems to bolt. You may have tried the perpetual varieties but find them rather bitter and stringy. This country style recipe is ideal for a light lunch, especially sitting around a big table in the garden with close friends or family. It tastes even better if you have grown the spinach  yourself; not like the tastless stuff from the supermarket.

Melt 1 oz butter in pan and soften shallots, add spinach and cover pan, cook for further 3 – 5 minutes until tender. Season to taste. Melt further 1 oz butter in a pan and gradually add the flour, mixing with a wooden spoon until smooth – continue stirring and cook for further 2 – 3 minutes.

Remove from heat and gradually add the warm milk, stirring continuously. Return pan to the heat and bring to boil, continue stirring all the time until thickened – simmer for further 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the beaten egg yolks and cooked spinach, add cheese and Cayenne pepper and season to taste. Carefully fold in the egg whites a little at a time.

Grease 1½ pint soufflé dish with remaining butter and pour in the mixture. Place in centre of pre-heated oven and cook for 30-40 minutes until well risen and brown, but still runny in the middle. Serve at once. Pre-heat oven 190C – Gas Mark 5.

Ingredients:

2½ oz butter
4 shallots, chopped
1lb spinach washed and finely chopped
Sea salt & freshly ground pepper
2 tbsp plain flour
¼ pint warmed milk
2 beaten egg yolks
2 oz cheddar or Gruyere cheese, grated
¼ tsp Cayenne pepper
5 egg whites, whisked