I’m flying out to Rome today for a whirlwind work trip. I doubt I’ll have much time for fun but I do have Friday morning free before my flight home that afternoon. And in that time I’ll be attempting to buy as many foodie treats as I can cram in my hand luggage. So while I’m away I thought I’d leave you with an Italian-style dish and a quick language lesson.
The term ‘sformato’ comes from the Italian verb ‘sformare’ meaning to remove from a mold and can apply to all manner of foods that have been shaped in a mold. I’m not really sure it applies here since you serve this rustic soufflé in a ramekin rather than turned out. Actually, I’m not sure that ‘rustic soufflé’ is a great description either, it’s a bit poncy, but “sort of lazy butternut squash soufflés, without the fuss of egg whites, in a ramekin” doesn’t exactly trip off the tongue so sformati these will remain. At least I’ve used the correct Italian plural (paninis I’m looking at you… grrr).
So what you’re looking at here is a modest relation to the soufflé. It starts off in life as bechamel sauce to which you add rich squash purée, sweet caramelised onions, a pinch of nutmeg and a generous dose of parmesan. The eggs go straight in, there’s no faffing about folding whites, and what you get is a denser, more satisfying dish minus any ‘sinking-soufflé anxiety syndrome’. Humble, yes, but it tastes a hundred times better than it looks!
Butternut squash and caramelised onion sformati
Makes 6–8* individual portions
Adapted from The Kitchn
- 1 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, loosely packed
- 1 large onion
- 500g cooked butternut squash (roasted concentrates the flavour but if pushed for time you can microwave it)
- 720ml whole milk
- 70g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing the ramekins
- 1/4 cup plain flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 large eggs
- 1 large yolk
Butter 6 or 8 ramekins and sprinkle in a little of the cheese to coat the base and sides.
Peel the onion, into quarters and slice. Heat a tablespoon of butter over a medium heat and gently cook the onion until soft and golden. Set aside to cool.
Pre heat your oven to 200°C.
Meanwhile make the bechamel. Warm the milk in a microwave until it steams. Melt the remaining butter over a medium heat and stir in the flour, cook for a few minutes, stirring constantly until the paste is thick.
Little by little stir the warm milk into the butter and flour paste to make a smooth sauce. Simmer for a minute or two, stirring until the sauce begins to thicken. remove from the heat and leave to cool.
Mash the butternut squash in a large bowl, stir in the salt, thyme, pepper, onions and cheese (save some to sprinkle on top). Add the bechamel and taste for seasoning. At this point you can refrigerate the mixture for up to a day. Bring back to room temperature before continuing with prep.
Beat the eggs and yolk and stir into the butternut mixture. Fill the prepared ramekins up to about 1 cm from the top. Bake for 30 minutes, sprinkle over the remaining cheese and bake for another 5–10 minutes until golden and puffed.
Rest for 10 minutes before serving (don’t worry if they sink a little).
The sformati keep well for up to a week in the fridge and can be reheated in the oven. They’re also good cold.
*This depends on the size of your ramekins. I didn’t have enough ramekins so I used the dishes I had to hand. Next time I’ll try baking it all in one large dish which will probably take a little longer to cook through.