Saturday, April 5, 2014

Another Fishy Dishy
What’s cooking? Tuna Spinach Soufflé

I’ve been cooking for my son and daughter-in-law this week – they had a baby a couple of weeks ago, and that’s what I do to help out. I figure it’s a win for everyone – they get to avoid cooking or even thinking about preparing meals, and I get to spend time with my two-year-old granddaughter and the new baby.

But it’s more exhausting than I thought it would be, with the thinking and the shopping and the prep and the clean-up, and the 40-minute drive each way. Last night, on the way home, I was stopped at a light when a guy drove up beside me to tell me my headlights were off. I turned them on and thanked him, and at that moment, the light changed. Suddenly, I noticed the Garden State Parkway entrance to my left, so I quickly turned onto the ramp and headed for home. The night was quiet, there wasn’t too much traffic, and I was listening to NPR, so I wasn’t really aware of the various road signs until at some point I thought it had been a while since I’d been driving and I should be seeing my exit number. Hmmm... this part of the road doesn’t look familiar – why is that? Did I miss my exit? As the next sign approached, I realized the numbers were going down instead of up. Then I noticed that the little compass on my rear-view mirror said “S” instead of “N.” That’s right – I had gotten onto the Parkway heading away from home – not toward it. And somehow I’d also managed to get myself onto the Express lanes, where I couldn’t exit for another 6 miles. Needless to say, it was quite late when I finally got myself turned around and back home. So even if you don’t think you’re tired, it’s a good idea to pay attention at the end of the day.

Last week, as I thought about possible menus, I recalled some of the recipes I’d prepared back when my son was still living at home. One of the ones I remember he liked was a dish I hadn’t cooked in ages. A dish the whole family really liked. And it’s a fish dish. Just right for the Lenten theme I’ve been working on. Just to see if I still liked it, I made it for myself and my hubby. Yup. Still a great dish. I found the recipe in a booklet that came with a set of soufflé dishes I bought so long ago that I think the booklet is the only thing left. Just goes to show that good ideas are everywhere. So here you are.

Kitchen Goddess note: Please do not be put off because this is a soufflé. Soufflés are not hard, and there’s a wonderful lightness to the texture that comes from the whipped egg whites. ❶ You make a roux. That’s the butter and flour mixture that you cook for a couple of minutes until it loses that floury taste. ❷ Stir in milk until the sauce thickens and add egg yolks. ❸ Add your flavoring ingredients – in this case the tuna and spinach and spices. ❹ Whip the egg whites until just stiff – the point at which you lose the shine and have nice, elegant peaks. The more you try this, the better you’ll get. ❺ Fold the flavoring into the whipped egg whites. Fold gently, using a large rubber spatula. Lay the beaten whites on top of the flavoring mixture, and use the spatula to slice down through the middle of the whites, then scoop into the batter and fold one half up over the other and into the batter in a looping motion. Turn the bowl a quarter turn, and repeat. The key is to go slowly and gently, and not to overdo it.

Because the flavoring ingredients in this soufflé are heavy and dense, the soufflé won’t rise as much as a dessert soufflé or a cheese soufflé, but it will rise some, and the top will brown. Serve it with dinner rolls or French bread and a salad or some other green veggie. It’s light, airy, and delicious. Also, it works equally well with salmon and spinach.

One final note. Dear readers, do not turn up your noses at the packaged tuna. Feel free to try this with fresh tuna, cooked and chopped finely, then let me know how it went. The Kitchen Goddess has only ever used packaged tuna or salmon. But get the kind that’s vacuum-packed in those foil pouches, and get the tuna that’s been packaged in oil. You just don’t save enough in calories to overcome the difference in flavor.

Tuna-Spinach Soufflé

Serves 2-3.

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons flour
¾ cup milk (not skim)
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon dry mustard
½ teaspoon grated lemon rind
3 large egg yolks
½ cup cooked or canned tuna (6-oz pouch, squeezed dry then flaked)
½ cup frozen chopped spinach (a 10-oz package, microwaved about 7 minutes until not quite done, and squeezed dry)
3 egg whites, beaten until just stiff

Preheat oven to 350º.

In a large saucepan, melt the butter and stir in the flour. Whisk over medium-low heat for about 2 minutes, then gradually whisk in the milk. Stir over medium heat until the sauce thickens and begins to bubble.

Remove the mixture from the heat and stir in the salt, mustard, lemon rind, and egg yolks. Add the tuna and spinach and blend well. Let this mixture cool to room temperature while you whip the egg whites.

Using a mixer fitted with a wire whisk, whip the egg whites on high until they lose their shine and produce stiff peaks. (If you have the energy, you can instead whip them by hand using a wire whisk, but I don’t know anyone like that.) Gently stir a large spoonful of the whipped egg whites into the tuna/spinach mix, then add the rest of the whites and gently fold them in.

Pour the mixture into an ungreased 1½-quart soufflé dish and bake at 350º for 35-40 minutes or until puffed and brown. Serve at once. (Unless you are the Kitchen Goddess and have to first take a photo.)

This recipe can easily be doubled. If you double it, bake at 375º for 50 minutes.


  1. This looks divine...your photography is looking pretty divine too!

    an Atlanta fan

  2. Replies
    1. It's always been a favorite in our family. Hope you like it!