Edible Monterey Bay

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By Katherine Stern, La Posta in Santa Cruz

A sformato is a variation on vegetable timbale. The word comes from the Italian verb “sformare,” which means “to unmold.”

  • 1 winter squash (butternut, red kabocha or large delicata are all good options)
  • 1 quart whole milk
  • 3 ounces flour
  • 2 ounces unsalted butter
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • 6 eggs
  • 6 to 8 fresh figs
  • ½ cup hazelnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
  • Few handfuls spicy salad greens (arugula, peppercress, watercress, etc.)
  • Olive oil
  1. Preheat oven to 375° F.
  2. Cut the winter squash in half. Drizzle it with some olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place cut side down on a baking sheet and roast in the oven until tender, about 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the size of the squash. Let cool.
  3. Turn the oven down to 325° F.
  4. Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed pot. Add the flour and stir to combine. Cook the roux until just fragrant but not browning. Add the milk a little at a time while whisking. Be sure to whisk well to avoid any lumps. Once all of the milk has been incorporated, add the bay leaf. Continue cooking over medium heat, whisking constantly until the béchamel comes to a boil. Boil for 1 minute and then remove from the heat. Season with salt, pepper and a few gratings of nutmeg. Set aside.
  5. Scoop all of the flesh out of the squash and puree in a food processor until smooth. Whisk the squash puree into the béchamel, then whisk in the eggs, one at a time, followed by the Parmesan cheese. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.
  6. Butter and flour 8 ramekins. Fill the ramekins about ¾ full of the sformato mixture. Place the ramekins in a baking dish and add hot water to about halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until set.
  7. Remove the ramekins from the baking pan and set to cool on a rack.
  8. Turn the oven up to 425° F.
  9. Cut the figs in half lengthwise. Heat a heavy-bottomed sauté pan over mediumhigh heat. Add a knob of butter to the pan and lay in the figs, cut side down. Allow to sizzle for a few seconds, and then place the pan in the hot oven. Roast the figs for a few minutes until golden but not falling apart.
  10. Loosen the edges of the sformato with a paring knife. Unmold onto individual plates. Dress the greens with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Arrange the roasted figs around the sformato. Sprinkle with the toasted hazelnuts and scatter the greens around the plate.

About the author

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At Edible Monterey Bay, our mission is to celebrate the local food cultures of Santa Cruz, San Benito and Monterey Counties, season by season.


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