There's no more elegant use for summer vegetables than to put them in a souffl'e, whose very lightness seems in harmony with the season. Traditional souffl'es are made by mixing a roux, a combination of butter and flour, and then adding milk and egg yolks and egg whites.
Some modern cooks are shunning the flour-based souffl'e and eliminating the roux and milk, thus removing much of the fat content.
Many of the new-style souffl'es are bound with ricotta cheese, a technique devised by Pierre Franey, the noted chef and author of the column ``60 Minute Gourmet,'' which appears in the New York Times.
In French, the word ``souffl'e'' means ``to blow,'' and from that definition came the baked mixture that puffs up above the rim of its mold.
Souffl'es are not as difficult to make or as temperamental as you may have supposed. Just be sure to have your diners assembled at the table when you bring your puffy, golden ``castle in the clouds'' from the oven. Broccoli Souffl'e 1 1/2 pounds trimmed broccoli 1/2 cup ricotta cheese Freshly grated nutmeg Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste Cayenne pepper to taste 8 eggs, separated 3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Butter and chill 8 1-1/4-cup souffl'e dishes.
Slice broccoli stalks into 3 to 4 pieces, lengthwise, to speed cooking.
Boil in lightly salted water until soft. Drain well. Place in food processor or blender with ricotta. Pur'ee briefly. Add nutmeg, salt, black pepper, and cayenne. Pur'ee thoroughly.
Transfer to bowl. Add yolks to mixture and blend well with wire whisk.
In another bowl, whisk whites until they form soft peaks.
Fold 1/4 of the whites into mixture, then the rest. Do not overwork. Season to taste.
Place souffl'e dishes on baking sheet and fill to rim. Before placing in oven, run thumb around outer rim of each dish to remove any overflow. Bake about 10 minutes. Serves 8.
Potato-Carrot Souffl'e 1 1/2 cups cooked mashed potatoes 1 cup cooled pur'eed carrots 3 egg yolks 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/8 teaspoon pepper 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg 5 egg whites
Combine mashed potatoes, carrots, egg yolks, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Mix well.
Beat egg whites stiff and fold into mixture. Place in souffl'e dish and then into pan of water.
Bake in a 350-degree F. oven for 30 minutes. Serve immediately. Can be served as a side dish for 8 people, or a main dish for 4. Zucchini Souffl'e 4 medium zucchini, cubed 2 small onions, finely chopped 3 tablespoons oil 4 eggs, beaten 1/2 cup buttermilk baking mix 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese 1 16-ounce carton cottage cheese 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley 1 teaspoon dried dill Salt and pepper 1/4 cup Italian-seasoned bread crumbs
Cook zucchini, covered, in small amount of water until tender. Drain and mash.
Saut'e onions in oil until tender. Combine zucchini and onions in bowl.
Stir in beaten eggs, buttermilk baking mix, Parmesan and cottage cheeses, parsley, and dill. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Grease 1-1/2-quart baking dish. Dust with bread crumbs, then add zucchini-cheese mixture and bake at 350 degrees F. 25 minutes until firm and fluffy. Serves 6.
Greek-Style Eggplant Souffl'e 2 pounds eggplant 1 pound ground beef 1 cup chopped onion 2 tablespoons butter or margarine Salt and pepper 1 tablespoon chopped parsley 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg 1/2 cup tomato sauce 1/2 cup water 2 cups soft bread crumbs, divided 6 eggs, separated 1/2 cup grated cheese
Pare and dice eggplant. Soak in bowl of cold water while preparing meat.
Rinse and drain eggplant well.
Meanwhile, brown beef and onion in butter. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Add eggplant cubes and stir over moderate heat to brown slightly.
Add parsley, nutmeg, tomato sauce, and water.
Simmer until eggplant is soft, stirring occasionally.
Remove from heat and stir in 11/2 cups bread crumbs. Mix well.
Combine well-beaten egg yolks with eggplant mixture. Fold in beaten egg whites, blending thoroughly.
Pour into 2-quart deep baking dish. Combine remaining bread crumbs with grated cheese and sprinkle over top.
Bake at 350 degrees F. for 45 minutes, or until firm and golden. Serve warm. Serves 6 to 8. Tomato, Corn, and Cheese Souffl'e 2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese 2 pounds very ripe tomatoes, chopped coarsely 2 tablespoons butter or margarine 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour 1/4 pound coarsely grated Gruy`ere cheese 1 cup corn cut from about 2 ears of corn 4 large eggs, separated, room temperature Pinch of cream of tartar
Sprinkle bottom and sides of buttered 1-quart souffl'e dish with 1/2 of the Parmesan cheese and chill dish.
In saucepan, simmer tomatoes, covered, for 20 to 30 minutes, or until very tender. Force them through a food mill fitted with medium disk set over a bowl. In pan simmer the pur'ee, stirring occasionally for 30 minutes, or until reduced to about 1 cup.
In another saucepan, melt butter over low heat.
Stir in flour and cook roux,' stirring, for 3 minutes. Whisk in tomato pur'ee.
Bring mixture to a boil, whisking, and simmer, whisking occasionally for 5 minutes.
Remove pan from heat and stir in Gruy`ere, remaining 1/3 cup Parmesan, corn, egg yolks, salt and pepper to taste.
In bowl with electric mixture beat egg whites with a pinch of salt until they are frothy.
Add cream of tartar and beat whites until they just hold stiff peaks.
Stir 1/3 of whites into corn mixture and fold in remaining whites.
Spoon souffl'e mixture into prepared dish and smooth top gently.
Put souffl'e dish into baking pan. Add enough water to pan to reach halfway up sides of dish.
Bake souffl'e in preheated 375-degree F. oven for 45 to 55 minutes, or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Serve at once. Serves 4 to 6.