In Italy, there is a class of dishes (some sweet, some savory) that goes by the name sformato, from the word forma, which means mold or shape. Like frittata, a close cousin, a savory sformato is egg-based, but it is heavier on the vegetables, creamy in texture, baked in a mold, then unmolded (hence the name) before serving.
I make sformati with whatever vegetables I have on hand; in the winter, butternut squash, parsnip, fennel, and cauliflower are favorites. If using a starchy or fibrous vegetable (like the four mentioned above), I find it best to boil the vegetable before puréeing it; watery vegetables such as mushrooms or eggplants do better sautéed fist, then puréed. And while I bake sformati in individual ramekins for company, I usually bake a sformato in one large soufflé dish if it’s just the two of us sharing it. Cast iron or enameled cast iron skillets like the one pictured here are a great baking vessel too. In this case, I serve the sformato still in the skillet or soufflé dish, and it’s so comforting to dig in while the sformato is still hot from the oven!
- 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup (1 ounce) freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- 6 ounces (1 medium) parsnip, peeled and cut into 1-inch dice (weigh after peeling)
- 1 tablespoon plus 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 ounces young goat cheese
- 2 large eggs
- 2 large egg whites
Preheat the oven to 375° (preferably set on convection).
Butter the bottom and sides of an 8-inch cast iron or enameled cast iron skillet. Sprinkle the bottom and sides of the skillet with 1 tablespoon of the grated Parmigiano.
Bring 1 quart of water to a boil. Drop in the parsnip and 1 tablespoon of the salt. Boil 3 minutes, or until the parsnip is fork-tender, then drain and cool under running water. Blot dry thoroughly before proceeding or the sformato will be watery.
Place the parsnip, the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, the remaining 3 tablespoons of the Parmigiano, the nutmeg, pepper, goat cheese, and whole eggs in the bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth, then transfer to a bowl.
In a clean bowl, beat the egg whites with a whisk until soft peaks hold; the whites should hold their shape when the bowl is turned upside down. If they do not hold their shape, beat a little longer. Fold gently into the parsnip mixture, being careful not to deflate it.
Spoon into the prepared skillet. Immediately bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until golden, set, and puffed. Serve immediately.