That’s how I’d describe my skills. Nothing honed, nothing award-worthy. Mostly hardy and heartfelt. And because of the above, I tend not to take on recipes that require proof of a diploma and that can’t be righted by throwing a raw potato into it. With that in mind, I will occasionally venture into the world of It looks like it’s hard, but it’s all smoke and mirrors. And since smoke is a major component of many of my meals, it fits nicely within my parameters.
Today, we shall make something that has a fancy name, but translated, is anything other than that.
We’re making Spinach and Romano Sformati. Sformato is derived from the Italian word Sformare, which simply means ‘unmold.’ Yeah, it’s better to stick with the swank sounding Italian. Basically, this is just a failsafe soufflé, but without all the poshy and excessive air. Who wants to eat air anyway, right? So dust off your bagnomaria (again, fancy shmancy for water bath bits and bobs), and let’s get cookin’.
Spinach and Romano Sformati
Ingredients – Serves 4 as a main dish, 6 as a starter
- 12 oz of fresh spinach – stemmed
- 4 Tblsp butter (and a little extra for greasing your ramekins)
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 16 oz milk (I’m using 2%, but go for the whole if you’re not counting calories)
- 1/2 cup Romano cheese, grated and then 1-2 Tblsp for sprinkling onto later
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- A smidge of freshly grated nutmeg
- 4 eggs plus one egg white
- Preheat the oven to 325º.
- Butter up 6 six oz. ramekins and sprinkle them with cheese. Put the ramekins in a large baking dish.
- Make a béchamel: (don’t panic – totally easy. I’m just throwing some high school French at you.) Melt the butter in a saucepan over moderate heat and sprinkle in your flour, whisking until smooth. Slowly whisk in the milk and continue stirring for about 5 minutes.
- Grate your nutmeg into the mixture and season with salt and pepper.
- Pour into a bowl and cover the surface with plastic wrap until only warm.
- Boil up some water and cook your spinach for about 1 minute. Drain and when cool enough, squeeze out all excess water.
- Pop the spinach into a food processor and whiz it up. Add your white sauce and blend. Add your eggs (and egg white), cheese and about 1 tsp. of salt. Whiz.
- Divide your mixture among the waiting ramekins.
- Pour hot water into the dish holding all the ramekins so that the water reaches halfway up their sides. Cover the dish with foil.
- Pop the dish (carefully) into the oven (I put mine on a half sheet for easier maneuvering) and bake for about 1 hour or until the mixture is set.
- Once out of the oven, remove the ramekins and let them catch their breath for about 5 minutes. Run a knife around the edges of each dish and invert onto your individual serving plates. (Or if your first one is a disaster, you can serve it in the ramekin. It’s okay. It’s homier that way. No judging.)
- Now drizzle a little olive oil over it and dust with a little cheese.