Winter Share - Brought to you by the color Orange

[Posted by Ruth]

With all the squashes and carrots in the winter share, there's a pronounced orange hue to the food around here lately.  Still, I want to use it all and find a way to make things taste different, even it they are all starting to to look the same.  The large bag or carrots we got in the January winter share have retained their sweetness and crispness so it seemed like it was time to feature them in a dish.  I wanted to make a savory carrot souffle; I saw a lot of recipes for sweet ones on the internet but wanted to make one that felt more substantial to go with the cold, nasty, snowy, kill me is it Spring yet? weather we've been having lately.

This may initially sound like a lot of steps, but it actually went together without too much trouble.  Because of the weight of the carrots and grits, this will not puff way up as some souffles, but it will still be light and airy inside.

Savory Carrot Souffle

2 lbs carrots, scrubbed, trimmed and cut into 1/2" rounds
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
1 T olive oil
3 T Grits
1 cup milk
1 1/3 cups grated cheddar cheese
1/4 tsp finely chopped dill, optional
4 eggs separated
2 T butter, plus a bit more for greasing the souffle dish
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 and lightly grease a souffle dish or other deep, straight sided casserole dish.  Cook carrots in a small amount of salted water, either on the stove top or in a microwave until tender.  Drain and set aside to cool a bit.  Heat the milk in a heavy bottomed sauce pan to simmering, add a pinch of salt, whisk in the grits and cook covered over very low heat, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is absorbed and the grits are cooked.  See your package directions for time as it will vary depending on whether you are using quick grits or old fashioned grits.  Leave covered and set aside to cool a bit.  While the grits and the carrots are cooling, cook the chopped onion in olive oil until soft and translucent.

In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, add the carrots, grits and onion and buzz until the carrots are pureed and all is well mixed.  Add in the cheddar cheese, dill, butter and egg yolks and process until fully incorporated.  Buzz in salt and pepper to taste.  Move this mixture to a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form.

Whisk about 1/4 of the egg whites into the the carrot mixture until fully blended to lighten it.

With a large spatula, gently fold the remaining egg whites in, incorporating them in pretty well, without over mixing.  It's O.K. to see a few small stray bits of egg white.  Fold into the greased dish and bake at 375 for about 1/2 hour without opening the oven door.  It will probably still seem jiggly in the middle at the point, turn oven down to 350 and bake for approx another 10-15 minutes, until it seems firmer but not dried out.  Remove from oven and serve.