Italian cooking works beautifully for many vegetarians. Think of the pasta and the vegetables, with their fresh, bright flavors and colorful variations.
"Italian Vegetarian Cooking" (Barrons, $14.95 paperback) by Johanna Handschmann could be a very practical help in giving thecook a jump-start in this direction. Its recipes and large color photos suggest appealing possibilities.
The meatless Souffle With Zucchini and Herbs is an airy dish with a subtle flavor, from the Piedmont region. It could be served in small portions as an appetizer, or in larger servings as a main dish.
This recipes takes about one hour to make from start to finish.
Souffle With Zucchini and Herbs
1 onion, finely diced
1-2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely diced
2-3 sage leaves
1 sprig rosemary (or 4-5 sprigs thyme), washed, stems discarded, needles finely chopped
1 or 2 zucchini (10-14 ounces), grated or cut into fine strips
2 tablespoons olive oil
7/8 cup cream
4 eggs, separated
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 pinch freshly grated nutmeg
Oil (for souffle dish)
Preheat oven to 350. Oil a shallow souffle dish.
In a medium skillet, heat the oil over medium-heat. Fry onion and garlic until golden yellow. Add rosemary or sage, and zucchini and cook 1-2 minutes. Pour in the cream; cook, stirring, until all is reduced by about half. Take off the stove and allow to cool a little.
Place a shallow pan (such as a broiler pan, deep enough to hold the souffle dish) in the oven and fill with enough water to make a water bath coming about two-thirds of the way to top of souffle dish.
Stir the egg yolks and Parmesan cheese into the zucchini mixture. Season to taste with salt, pepper and nutmeg.
Beat egg whites to stiff peaks; carefully fold into zucchini mixture. Spoon mixture into the oiled souffle dish; set the souffle dish into the hot water bath in the oven and bake 30-35 minutes until the souffles top is golden brown.
Makes four main dish servings.
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