This has turned into a Holiday staple for us appearing at Thanksgiving and Christmas, but you can make this any time of the year, especially for parties and larger gatherings. It’s essentially a cauliflower custard that bakes in a ring mold, like this one. It makes for a great presentation and guests can simply help themselves by scooping their own portions or cut “slices” of the ring and serve. Kids love this too because of the cheesy flavor so it’s a great way to get them to eat some vegetables. The addition of roasted garlic took this recipe to a whole new level.
It looks like a lot of instructions but this recipe is quite easy to make.
This recipe is modified from the original that was part of a Italian Thanksgiving special in the former La Cucina magazine.
Prep, Cook, Servings
Prep: 60 – 90 min
Cook: 2 hours
Servings: 6 – 12
For the béchamel: 1 1/2 cups whole milk 3 tablespoons unsalted butter 2 tablespoons plus 3⁄4 teaspoon unbleached all-purpose flour Fine sea salt Freshly ground black pepper Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
For the cauliflower and custard: 1 head of garlic 1 medium head cauliflower (about 2 1/2 pounds) 2 large eggs 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature 1/4 cup fine bread crumbs
Roast the garlic: Set your oven to 350 Cut the top 1 inch off the top of the head of garlic Place the garlic on a sheet of aluminum foil Drizzle olive oil across the top of the garlic Wrap the garlic in the foil and place in the oven for 40 – 60 minutes, until the garlic is lightly golden brown and fragrant. Unwrap and set aside to cool.
Make the béchamel: Combine milk, butter and flour in a heavy medium saucepan; bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring constantly, first with a whisk, then with a wooden spoon, until sauce is very thick, about 20 minutes. If the sauce won’t thicken enough, add 1 tsp of flour and continue stirring. Season to taste with salt, pepper and nutmeg.
Remove béchamel from heat, strain through a fine-mesh sieve or cheesecloth into a small bowl, and cover surface with plastic wrap to keep skin from forming.
Cook the cauliflower: Remove any leaves from cauliflower. Cut cauliflower into quarters and put in a large pot. Add water to come up 1 inch. Cook, covered, over high heat until cauliflower is tender, about 20 minutes; then drain.
Trim tough stems from cauliflower, then, working with 1 quarter at a time, wrap cauliflower in a large, clean dishtowel (do not use a new, unwashed, colored dishtowel) and, over sink, twist dishtowel until all excess liquid is removed from cauliflower. Pulse cauliflower and half of the roasted garlic in a food processor until finely chopped.
Make the custard: Heat oven to 325°. Beat eggs in a large bowl; add béchamel and whisk to combine. Crush the roasted garlic and add to the bowl, mix into the béchemel Add cauliflower, cheese, salt and pepper; stir to combine.
Butter a 1.5- to 2-quart baking dish (or a similar size ring mold) with 2 tablespoons butter (it is important to use all of the butter) and coat with bread crumbs. Add cauliflower mixture. Bake until sformato sets and lightly browns, about 40 minutes. Remove the sformato from oven; let rest for 15 to 20 minutes, then un-mold onto an oven safe baking dish.
If you are making the sformato in advance, allow to cool completely, cover and place in the refrigerator. If serving now, proceed to the next step.
Set the oven to Broil In a small bowl mix a heaping handful of breadcrumbs with a drizzle of olive oil. Spread the breadcrumbs around the top of the sformato, cover the entire top. Place under the broiler for 1 – 3 minutes until the top is golden brown. Keep an eye on the breadcrumbs because they will burn quickly.
For the ring presentation, you’ll need a ring mold like this one.
The Sformato can be made 1 day in advance and kept refrigerated until time to serve.
To Reheat: Preheat the Oven to 200. Cover the Sformato in aluminum foil and place in the oven for 1 hour. Remove from the oven, uncover and set the oven to Broil. In a small bowl mix a heaping handful of breadcrumbs with a drizzle of olive oil. Spread the breadcrumbs around the top of the sformato, cover the entire top. Place under the broiler for 1 – 3 minutes until the top is golden brown. Keep an eye on the breadcrumbs because they will burn quickly.
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