Tuscan vegetable timbales in a pecorino cheese sauce

Tuscan vegetable timbales in a pecorino cheese sauce

Sformati

By
From
Tuscany
Makes
8 × 100-150 ml
Photographer
Helen Cathcart

Our good friend and fellow foodie Anna Hudson and I have had great fun playing with these little beauties, both with the flavours and layering up the colours. Sformati can be served as a primo with cheese sauce; with secondi; or for breakfast. We have given the recipe for making a layered sformato from carrot, cauliflower and spinach as that is our favourite. Most vegetables will work on their own if they have a strong flavour and are not too watery, such as courgette. Sformati are a great way to use up leftover vegetables, especially if they have been steamed al cartoccio as they have such an intense flavour. Our friend Antonella Secciani’s way to make a cauliflower sformato is with sesame seeds in the mould; she serves it with a hearty stew like the peposo. The remaining egg yolks can be kept for making custard or our fricassee recipe.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient

For the béchamel

Quantity Ingredient
250ml whole milk
30g unsalted butter
1 small bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon finely grated nutmeg
salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons cornflour

For the sformati

Quantity Ingredient
unsalted butter, for greasing
4 tablespoons sesame seeds, (optional)
250-300g cooked spinach, squeezed dry
75g grated parmesan or grana padano
3 egg whites, loosely whisked
salt
freshly ground black pepper
250-300g cooked and well-drained cauliflower
250-300g cooked and well-drained carrot

For the cream sauce

Quantity Ingredient
100ml double cream
75g grated pecorino or parmesan
freshly ground black pepper

To serve

Quantity Ingredient
25g pine nuts, toasted, to serve
freshly ground black pepper
good-quality extra-virgin olive oil
thyme leaves

Method

  1. To make the béchamel, heat 200 ml of the milk in a medium saucepan with the butter, bay leaf, nutmeg, salt and pepper over a medium heat. Mix the cornflour into the remaining 50 ml of milk to make a smooth paste, then add this to the warm milk in the pan and stir well with a wooden spoon. Increase the heat and keep stirring until the sauce is thickened, then remove from the heat, discard the bay leaf and set aside.
  2. To make the sformati, preheat the oven to 170°C. Grease the dariole moulds generously with butter and place a small circle of baking parchment at the bottom of each one. They can be dusted with sesame seeds at this point, if you wish.
  3. Put the spinach, a third of the béchamel, a third of the cheese and 1 egg white into a food processor or use a bowl and stick blender. Add a good pinch of salt and a twist of black pepper. Blend until smooth and tip into a bowl. Do the same with the cauliflower and carrot mixtures, using up the remaining béchamel, cheese and eggs. Now divide the spinach mixture between the moulds, followed by the cauliflower mixture and lastly the carrot mixture, then set the moulds on a baking tray.
  4. Add enough water to the tray to come 2 cm up the sides of the moulds. Bake in the oven for 30–35 minutes or until firm to the touch. Remove from the oven and leave to stand at room temperature for 5 minutes before turning out.
  5. To make the cream sauce, heat the cream and cheese together in a small saucepan and serve with the sformati. Scatter the sformati with some toasted pine nuts, a twist of pepper, a drizzle of good-quality olive oil and a few thyme leaves.
Tags:
Italy
Italian
Caldesi
Tuscany
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