By SARA MOULTON
The Washington Post
Leaving aside anything made with powdered eggs (which really don’t count as eggs at all in my book), I’ve never met an egg dish I didn’t like. But at the tippy top of my list of favorites is the edible magic trick known as the souffled omelet.
The magic is built into the whites of the egg. A three-egg omelet made the usual way comprises a substantial meal for one person. But a souffled omelet made with three whole eggs – plus two whites – makes the traditional omelet look like a midget and is more than enough for two people.
How can so few eggs produce such an ample dish? Something about separating the whites from the yolks, beating them, then adding them back to the yolks inflates the omelet to almost comical proportions.
Though I personally have never wavered in my partisanship, eggs have shown up now and again as a target of the food police. Eggs are high in cholesterol!
Happily, the most recent studies question whether the sort of cholesterol found in eggs is what we need to be worried about. And, cholesterol aside, eggs are a terrific source of protein, vitamins and antioxidants – and all at about 77 calories an egg.
And did I mention they are very high on the satiation chart? Eggs fill you up. In this recipe, the extra egg whites contribute more protein to the mix with very few extra calories.
In a nod to the wonderful Greek omelets you can find in diners from coast to coast, this recipe stars spinach and feta cheese.
Of course, you’re welcome to swap in any kind of sauteed greens and any kind of lean-ish cheese, be it goat cheese or low-fat cheese made from cow’s milk. But whatever you do, don’t leave out the grated lemon zest. It brightens up the whole dish.
By the way, when it’s time to clean out the fridge, a souffled omelet (like a regular omelet) is the perfect wrapper for zillions of fillings. Leftover cooked broccoli, peppers, mushrooms, corn, peas, almost any vegetable will always find a happy home in an omelet.
Ditto for leftover bits of cheese, though – to keep down the fat and calories – you’ll probably want to bulk up the omelet with veggies to start, then add the cheese as an accent.
This recipe serves two. To make enough for four people, prepare a double batch, pour it into two medium skillets, then bake them in the oven at the same time.
Greek-Style Souffled Omelet
Start to finish: 30 minutes
1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
5 ounces baby spinach
Salt and ground black pepper
2 ounces feta cheese, finely crumbled
3 large whole eggs, separated, plus 2 egg whites
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
Chopped fresh dill, to garnish
Heat the oven to 450 degrees F.
In a large skillet over medium, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add the spinach and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring, until the spinach is wilted. Sprinkle the feta on top and set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks with a hefty pinch of salt, several grinds of pepper and the lemon zest, until the mixture is fluffy, about 4 minutes. In a separate bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until they hold soft peaks; stir one fourth of the whites into the egg yolks, then fold the remaining whites into the yolks gently, just until they are incorporated.
In a 10-inch nonstick skillet with an oven-safe handle over medium, heat the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of oil. Pour the egg mixture into the skillet, gently spread it evenly. Place the skillet in the oven on the middle shelf and bake until it is puffed and almost cooked through, about 3 minutes. Meanwhile, reheat the spinach mixture over medium heat, stirring.
Remove the omelet from the oven and make an indent down the center with a spatula.
Spoon the spinach mixture over one half of the omelet, then use the spatula to fold the other half of the omelet over to cover the filling. Return the omelet to the oven and bake for another 2 to 3 minutes. Divide the omelet in half, sprinkle each half with the dill and serve right away.
Nutrition information per serving: 320 calories; 200 calories from fat (63 percent of total calories); 22 g fat (7 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 295 mg cholesterol; 11 g carbohydrate; 4 g fiber; 4 g sugar; 19 g protein; 710 mg sodium.
• Sara Moulton was executive chef at Gourmet magazine for nearly 25 years, and spent a decade hosting several Food Network shows. She currently stars in public television’s “Sara’s Weeknight Meals” and has written three cookbooks, including “Sara Moulton’s Everyday Family Dinners.”