May 31, 2012


Woo Me With A Sformato

I first tasted a sformato a few years back when we stayed in Acqui Terme at the charming Baur B & B. We dined in town one evening at a lovely restaurant recommended by Diana, the innkeeper. The menu was in Italian and although I understood most of it, I had no idea what to make of one of the starters-sformato. When the owner came over to take our order and explained to me that it included cheese, eggs and a puree of a vegetable, I knew I was in. It was luscious without being heavy and not eggy at all.

On my recent trip in Italy I was happy to find sformato on various menus. The first one that I ordered was at Osteria Miranda and it was made with artichokes and set on top of a creamy sauce. The next one was at dinner one evening and was made with pecorino cheese and served on a pear sauce. My next taste was in Bologna and was a puree of zucchini and eggplant atop a besciamella sauce. The final sformato, also served at a Bologna osteria, was larger than the others and I’m not sure what was in it, but it was scrumptious and I ate every single bite and then hardly had room for my pasta dish.

Upon returning home I made my own version from a book on the cooking of Piemonte-Cucina Piemontese. I had just purchased fresh spinach and that’s what I used. I should have taken the photo after I unmolded them, but you can get the idea from my photo. They are more like savory flans, rather than souffles. At any rate, I adore them and am ready to try my hand at them again soon.

Sformato di Spinaci

2 pounds fresh spinach or 1-10oz. package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease six 4 ounce ramekins and fill a pan large enough to hold them with 3/4″ of water for a bain-marie.

Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil with 1 tablespoon salt. Boil the spinach for 1 minute, drain and chop. Melt the butter over medium heat and saute the spinach for 2 minutes.

Whisk together the eggs, milk, cream, cheese, remaining 1 teaspoon salt, pepper and nutmeg. Stir in the cooked spinach.

Pour the mixture into the prepared ramekins, making sure that they are only about 3/4 full. Place the filled ramekins in the bain-marie and carefully place into the oven. Bake for about 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove from oven and let cool briefly. Run a knife around the edges of the ramekins and unmold onto plates. This would be great served with a little tomato sauce on the plate. For a richer version serve with a besciamella sauce.

Autumn In Tuscany-Cook with Panini Girl In Lucca

7 thoughts on “Woo Me With A Sformato

  1. I really recommend that your readers try this recipe, it’s delicious. When I was a cook at an Italian restaurant (in Berkeley, California) I made a very similar recipe for spinach sformato which was a constant big hit with the customers, the only difference was I didn’t use the delicious heavy cream as you suggest, I intuitively know your recipe is much better. Thanks for bringing the recipe to everyones’ attention.

  2. Did you know that a ‘forma’ in Italian is a mould, ‘sformare’ means to remove from a mould, and ‘sformata’ means unmoulded? In Tuscany cream isn’t much used, and in my village the women make a very thick bechamel to which they add eggs and parmesan. The vegetable can be almost anything that’s in season, which you boil, chop, squeeze out all the water and mix into the bechamel. This is put in a buttered or oiled mould. Fine breadcrumbs are sprinkled on top and then it’s baked in the oven. Cardoon sformata is one of my favourites, but you probably can’t get cardoons (related to artichokes, but you eat the stems) in most places.

    • Heather-I think that the first time I made it I did make it with a bechamel. I like that idea and will do that again next time. I am lucky to have a very nice Sicilian farmer who is at my farmers’ market who has cardoons when they are in season.

  3. This sounds yummy, and will try it with artichokes , for sure!

  4. Pingback: The Perfect Summer Side Dish « Panini Girl

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