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Spinach surprise

Do not overwhisk the egg whites. It is easier to fold in the whites if you first beat 1 - 2 tablespoons of whisked whites into the spinach mixture to slacken it. Carefully fold in the whites so as not to lose the trapped air.

ingredients

serves 4
500 g (1 lb) fresh spinach or 250 g (9 oz) frozen chopped spinach
salt
50 g (2 oz) margarine or butter
1 onion, finely chopped
25 g (1 oz) plain flour
150 ml (1/4 pint) milk
good pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
freshly ground black pepper
4 eggs, separated
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
margarine, for greasing

method

1. If using fresh spinach, wash very thoroughly and remove the stalks and central midribs. Place the spinach in a saucepan with only the water that clings to the leaves, and sprinkle with salt. Cover and cook over moderate heat for about 10 minutes until the spinach is cooked, stirring occasionally. If using frozen spinach, cook according to packet instructions.

2. Drain the spinach well in a sieve, pressing out all the excess water. Chop the spinach, if using fresh. Grease a 1.5 litre (2 1/2 pint) souffle' dish. Heat the oven to 190°C (375°F) Gas 5.

3. Melt the margarine in a large saucepan, add the onion and cook over low heat for about 5 minutes until soft and lightly coloured. Sprinkle in the flour and stir over low heat for 1 - 2 minutes until straw-coloured. Remove from the heat and gradually stir in the milk. Return to moderate heat and simmer, stirring, until thick.

4. Stir in the chopped spinach and grated nutmeg and season well with salt and pepper. Simmer over gentle heat for 2 minutes.

5. Remove from the heat. Beat the
egg yolks and beat them into the spinach mixture.

6. Whisk the egg whites until they are just standing in soft peaks then fold gently into the spinach mixture with a metal spoon.

7. Pour the mixture into the greased souffle dish and sprinkle the top evenly with the grated Parmesan cheese. Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes until risen and lightly browned on the top. It should be firm to the touch on the outside, and not wobbly if gently shaken, but still moist in the centre. Serve at once straight from the dish.

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