Tuesday, October 26, 2010


I'm going to share a secret:  a sformato is an Italian version of a souffle. BACK AWAY FROM THE DELETE KEY. Trust me, you CAN make this dish and you can make it on a weeknight. I try not to fall into the mindset that I have to have a starch with every meal and have been successful at substituting 2 veggies for the more typical veggie and a starch. Let's just say that this cauliflower sformato is a "carbie" veggie. It paired beautifully with a roasted chicken, but would work as well with pork or beef or lamb. If I weren't already serving brussels sprouts for Thanksgiving, I'd serve this in place of mashed potatoes.

Serves 6 - 8
1 small cauliflower (about 2 pounds)
2 tbs olive oil; more for the gratin dish
Kosher salt
1 3/4 oz freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
3 3/4 cups whole milk (I used fat free)
4 oz unsalted butter
2 1/4 oz all purpose flour
3 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 375 degrees.

Core the cauliflower and separate it into florets. Cut the florets into 1/4 inch thick slices. Put the cauliflower on a rimmed baking sheet and toss with the olive oil. Spread in an even layer, season with 1/2 tsp salt, and roast until tender, 30-35 minutes. Cool briefly.

Raise the oven temperature to 400 degrees. Brush an 8 X 10 gratin dish with olive oil and evenly coat with about half of the grated cheese.

Heat the milk in a heavy saucepan until just about to boil.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a heavy saucepan. Whisk in the flour and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture turns light golden, 2 to 4 minutes. Slowly add the hot milk, whisking constantly, until very smooth. Bring just to a boil and reduce the heat to maintain a simmer. Add 1 tsp salt and cook, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes, to develop the flavor. Transfer to a large bowl.

In a small bowl, whisk the eggs, yolks, and olive oil. Roughly chop 1/2 cup of the cauliflower and puree the rest. Stir the chopped cauliflower, puree, egg mixture, and remaining cheese into the sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Pour the mixture into the prepared gratin dish and bake until the sformato is just set and browned around the edges, about 30 minutes. It should jiggle slightly when you remove it from the oven. Let the sformato rest for 10-15 minutes before serving.

NOTE:  the accompanying photo pictures half the recipe baked in a smaller glass dish; you could also bake in individual ramekins

I could have been satisfied with eating this dish as my main course. The flavor, combined with a wonderful creamy texture, made it an instant hit. In fact, having sampled the roasted cauliflower as it came out of the oven, I intend to serve that as a veggie side very soon. Since a simple white sauce is key to so many wonderful dishes (think macaroni and cheese, pastitsio, to name two), it is worth learning to whip one up as a regular skill in your cooking repertoire. As a postscript, don't be disappointed if this doesn't look like your normal souffle--it doesn't puff up. It's the light, airy texture that likens it to a souffle.


  1. Now this is a dish I would love and could eat the entire amount. Arlene, I'm going to bookmark this one!

  2. I am definitely going to make this. It looks wonderful!

  3. I think cauliflower is so underutilized by everyone. I love it, but I rarely think to cook with it. Like you, I have been trying add more veggies to my plate in place of starches. With recipes like this one it is easy to do. This recipe has all the creaminess of mashed potatoes, but in a much healthier way. Love it!

  4. What a timely recipe, Arlene! I have two heads of cauliflowers in my refrigerator, as my green grocer had a sale I couldn't pass up. I was going to make cauliflower soup but I'd love to try this sformato instead as a vegetarian dinner one evening.

  5. Stumbled upon your blog searching for the word "sformato". Great blog! Just last night, I blogged about cauliflower.


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