Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Wash the spinach (or broccoli rabe) and transfer it, still wet, to a skillet. Cook over medium-high heat for 2 minutes, until wilted. Remove from the heat and cool.
Drain the spinach (or broccoli rabe) and coarsely chop it; set aside.
Mix the bread crumbs and 3 tablespoons of the Parmesan cheese together in a small bowl.
Using 1 teaspoon of the butter, grease the sides and bottom of a 6-cup gratin dish. Add half of the bread crumb mixture and shake the dish until the crumbs coat the sides and bottom. Set aside.
Melt the remaining 3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons butter in a saucepan. Add the flour, mixing with a whisk, and cook over medium-high heat for about 30 seconds. Whisk in the milk, salt, and pepper, bring to a boil, whisking constantly, and cook, whisking, until the mixture thickens. Remove from the heat and whisk in the egg yolks. Add the reserved spinach (or broccoli rabe) and the ham and mix well.
Beat the 5 egg whites in a large bowl until firm but still soft. Fold them into the spinach (or broccoli rabe) mixture, along with the remaining tablespoon of cheese.
Pour the soufflé mixture into the prepared gratin dish and sprinkle the remaining bread crumb mixture on top.
Place the dish on a cookie sheet, and bake in the center of the oven for about 30 minutes, until the soufflé is set and the top is puffy and brown.
Spoon the soufflé directly from the gratin dish onto plates and serve immediately. (The soufflé can be unmolded from the dish by inverting it onto a plate, if you would prefer to present it in this way.)
Copyright © 2011 by Jacques Pépin. Used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.
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