Eggplant Soufflé with Cilantro Sauce

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1 pound eggplant, peeled and cut crosswise into 1/4 inch slices
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup unsalted butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 scallions, minced
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon flour
1-1/2 cups milk, hot
5 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt optional, or to taste
6 large egg whites, room temperature
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
7 ounces bottled roasted red bell peppers, drained and chopped
1/2 cup tomatoes, puréed in a blender
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon cilantro or parsley, minced, plus more for garnish
1/8 teaspoon sugar

Place eggplant slices in a colander. Sprinkle with salt and set aside to drain for one hour. Rinse eggplant under cold water and pat dry.

Turn on broiler. Arrange eggplant in a single layer in a lightly oiled baking sheet. Brush with oil and broil 2 inches from heat source 3-5 minutes, or until lightly browned. Turn slices and broil 3-5 minutes more, or until very tender. Purée eggplant in a blender or food processor.

Preheat oven to 400. Melt the butter in a heavy non-stick skillet over medium-low heat. Sauté garlic and scallions 3 minutes. Stir in flour and cook, stirring, 3 more minutes. Whisk in the milk in a thin stream. Simmer, whisking constantly, 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let mixture cool 5 minutes. Whisk in egg yolks, Worcestershire sauce, eggplant purée, salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

In a bowl with an electric mixer, beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until frothy. Add cream of tartar and continue beating until whites hold stiff peaks. (Do not over beat.) Stir one third of whites into eggplant mixture. Fold in remaining whites.

Transfer mixture to a buttered 1-1/2 quart soufflé dish. (Mixture may be refrigerated up to 2 hours at this stage.) Bake the soufflé 40-45 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in center comes out clean. Serve immediately.

While soufflé is baking, make the sauce. Melt butter in a heavy nonstick skillet over low heat. Sauté onion and garlic 5 minutes. Add red peppers, tomato purée and water. Simmer, stirring occasionally, 3 minutes. Stir in minced cilantro and sugar. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a sauce boat and garnish with cilantro leaves. Serve sauce warm with souffle.



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