Parmesan-Grits Soufflé Serves 6
Although grits are usually served with lots of butter, they're lightened in this soufflé with egg whites and flavored with Parmesan cheese. This dish is delicious served plain as a side dish or as an appetizer drizzled with vinaigrette and garnished with fresh figs, slivers of country ham and ramps, a variety of wild leek available in the spring.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 90 minutes

1 cup grits
4 cups water
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
Salt and pepper to taste
4 egg whites
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 cup olive oil
12 fresh figs, quartered
18 ramps or 6 small leeks
1 cup country ham, sliced into slivers (optional)
Chopped chives

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly oil six 5-ounce oven-proof ramekins. In a medium-size saucepan, bring the water to a boil and whisk in the grits. Lower the heat and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the grits begin to thicken, about 15 minutes. Stir in the cheese and season with salt and pepper. Set grits aside to cool down. Don't let grits cool completely or they'll set.

2. While the grits cool, whip the egg whites into stiff peaks. Fold egg whites into the warm grits in thirds until incorporated.

3. Fill ramekins with the grits and place them in the oven. Bake 20 minutes or until the soufflé has risen.

4. Meanwhile, make the vinaigrette. Place the juice and zest in a mixing bowl. Season with salt and pepper and then whisk in the oil. Set aside until ready to serve.

5. To prepare the garnish: Peel and rinse ramps under cool water to remove any dirt. Brush the ramps and figs with a little vegetable oil and grill or broil until tender, 5 to 8 minutes.

6. To serve: Turn each soufflé out of its ramekin onto a plate. Arrange the figs, ramps and ham slivers decoratively around the soufflé. Drizzle the plate with the vinaigrette and garnish with chopped chives.