I’m not sure that this qualifies as an actual “sformata” but it is a dish that I could sit down, grab a spoon and devour. Some of you may be asking “what actually is a sformata“? I know that was my question when I first encountered it on a menu in Acqui Terme in Piemonte. You can read about my first experience here.
Anyway, after doing some research it seemed to me that a traditional sformata involves cream and eggs and is somewhat akin to a souffle, but I dare say that it is easier. There’s no whipping of egg whites and the urgency of getting it on the table asap is not there either. Usually the sformate are cooked in a water bath, whereas this re-creation from London’s famed River Cafe does not require this step. You also don’t have to cook and puree any vegetables for this rendition.
What I love about this recipe is that you need not wait for summer tomatoes to make it. Cherry tomatoes are available at the market year long and once roasted they will pop with flavor. Since it is summer and tomatoes are at their peak, why not try this now? Each and every bite bursts with the perfect combination of the sweet roasted tomatoes and creamy ricotta cheese. Serve alongside roasted meat or fish.
Sformata di Ricotta
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 ounces freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
10 ounces cherry tomatoes
1 large garlic clove, peeled and halved lengthwise
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 ¼ cups fresh ricotta
1 cup crème fraîche
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves (no stems)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease the bottom of a 2-quart baking dish with 1 tablespoon butter; sprinkle with 2 tablespoons Parmigiano-Reggiano. Add the tomatoes and garlic; drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Shake dish to coat tomatoes with cheese. Bake 15 minutes, until tomatoes are hot and start to split, shaking dish occasionally. Remove tomatoes from oven; cool in dish. Spoon tomatoes and their juices into a bowl; reserve the baking dish but do not wash it out.
When baking dish is cool enough to touch, grease bottom and sides with the remaining butter. Mix the eggs and ricotta in a food processor until smooth.Add the crème fraíche and half the thyme and process until mixed. Season with salt and pepper. Spread the ricotta mixture in the baking dish; scatter the tomatoes and their juices and remaining thyme on top. Sprinkle with remaining Parmigiano-Reggiano and drizzle with olive oil. Bake until heated through, about 20 minutes.