My Hack for the Perfect Spinach Soufflé Is So Easy No One Will Ever Guess

You decide if you'll reveal the secret of this magical dish.

a spinach casserole
Photo: Mariah Blanchard/Getty Images

Figuring out a green vegetable side dish for the holidays can make even the most confident home cook a bit frazzled. Fresh vegetable dishes almost always need to be made at the last minute on your stovetop, just when you are trying to finagle carving a giant protein or finishing the gravy. Or they require space in an oven already packed to bursting.

Salad is fine, but never really feels like it occupies that vegetable space, and making veggies ahead usually means that they lose their oomph, not to mention their texture, during the reheating.

Casseroles are definitely the way to go, but I've never been a huge fan of the condensed soup treatment for vegetables. It always seems to negate both their freshm verdant flavor and any possible health benefits.

Enter my spinach soufflé casserole. And by my spinach soufflé, I mean a cheater casserole made mostly by the fine people of Stouffer's.

I have had a soft spot for Stouffer's spinach soufflé since I was a kid, and it was the "fancy" side dish to those nights when mom and dad left us with the babysitter and the all-frozen meal — either chicken pot pies or chicken Kiev, a spinach soufflé, and then ice cream sandwiches or fudgesicles.

The soufflé packs a decent wallop of spinach flavor, in a festive puffy format that always felt a little magical. It was a sneaky way of getting us to eat something green by making it fun and special.

It's also delicious.

So, if I am up under it for a holiday meal and need that side dish, I will buy eight Stouffer's soufflés, remove them from their packaging and layer them into a foil lasagna pan with some bonus shredded cheese and scallion between the layers and a crispy fried onion topping, and then return the dish to the freezer. An hour and a quarter in a 400 degree F oven will give you all the lift and puff you need, and a generous dish to feed up to 16 people.

Whether you give credit to Stouffer's is entirely up to you.

Cheater Spinach Souffle

  • 8 frozen Stouffer's Spinach Soufflés
  • 1 cup shredded cheese of your choice — I love a good melting cheese like fontina or a sharp cheese like Cheddar or Gruyere
  • 1 bunch scallions, white and greens, sliced thinly
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup french-fried onions

1. Spray a 10x13-inch disposable foil lasagna pan with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Remove four of the soufflés from their packaging, and pop out of the baking trays. Arrange in a single layer on the bottom of the pan.

3. Toss the shredded cheese with the scallions, and spread in an even layer on top of the frozen soufflés. Then, top with the other four soufflés. Sprinkle the Parmesan over the top, then the french-fried onions.

4. Cover tightly with foil, and put back in your freezer until you want to cook.

5. To bake, cook from frozen, covered, in a 400 degree F oven for 75 to 85 minutes. Then uncover and cook for another 10 to 15 minutes until the top has puffed, the onions are crispy, and the center of the casserole hits 185 degrees F.

6. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving. Serve hot.

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