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Pumpkin (or Squash) Sformato

I know Thanksgiving is all about the turkey here in the U.S., but if you serve this squash sformato to your guests, the turkey might develop an inferiority complex. Everyone will want seconds of this intensely flavored dish that just melts in your mouth. It also makes a nice first course for a dinner party too, since you can make practically all of it ahead of time and just reheat in the microwave.

You can make a sformato from nearly any vegetable, including cauliflower, which I posted about here way back in 2009, served with a tomato sauce. But you can make it with carrots, spinach, broccoli, and even ricotta can be used to make this unctuous dish that is almost like eating glamorized baby food.

It’s good all on its own, but if you dress it up with a creamy parmesan sauce and drizzle with balsamic, it’ll take you to Nirvana. Now is the time to bring out that aged balsamic vinegar that’s been saved for special occasions. But even if you don’t want to spring for the expensive stuff, just take some supermarket balsamic and reduce it to a syrupy liquid, or alternatively, buy some balsamic glaze.

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Pumpkin (or Squash) Sformato
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 medium size butternut squash (enough to produce about 4 cups cooked squash)
  • 1¾ cup milk or a combination of milk and cream
  • ½ stick unsalted butter, plus more for greasing molds
  • ¼ cup flour plus 1 T.
  • pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • salt, white pepper, to taste
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • FOR THE SAUCE:
  • 2 cups heavy cream, reduced a bit
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • reduced balsamic vinegar, balsamic glaze, or aged balsamic vinegar if you want to be indulgent
Instructions
  1. Cut the squash in half and remove the seeds.
  2. Grease an oven-proof casserole or flat pan and place the squash on it, cut side down.
  3. Roast in the oven for 45 minuttes or until tender when pierced with a fork.
  4. Remove the cooked squash from the skin, then place it in a food processor and puree it until perfectly smooth.
  5. Place the squash into a colander lined with paper towels to absorb any remaining moisture.
  6. You can do this the night before.
  7. Butter eight ¾ cup oven-proof custard cups or flan molds and preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  8. Heat the milk in a saucepan until warm and little bubble start to form.
  9. In another saucepan over low heat, melt the butter, then add the flour and stir and cook for a couple of minutes until smooth.
  10. It will start to get “pasty,” but that’s fine.
  11. Add the milk and continue to stir constantly, using either a whisk or wooden spoon, for about five minutes.
  12. Add seasonings and squash puree.
  13. Beat the eggs and add the parmesan cheese to the eggs.
  14. Add the puree mixture to the egg and cheese mixture, starting with a small amount, then increasing the amount a little at a time.
  15. By adding them slowly, you want to slowly raise the temperature of the eggs and cheese.
  16. If you add the pureed squash mixture all at once, you risk curdling the eggs.
  17. When everything is mixed, pour into the buttered molds and put the molds in a bain-marie or hot water bath.
  18. Bake for about 40 minutes.
  19. Remove the molds from the water and let them rest at least 10 minutes before trying to unmold.
  20. If you unmold too soon, they won’t hold their shape.
  21. They actually hold their shape better the next day when you reheat them.
  22. I microwaved them in their molds the next day to reheat, then flipped them out onto individual plates.
  23. Serve as is, or with a simple homemade parmesan cream sauce, as shown.
  24. TO MAKE THE SAUCE:
  25. Place the cream in a sauce pan and reduce a bit (not too much because when you add the cheese it will thicken more)
  26. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cheese, whisking to incorporate and make it smooth.
  27. Pour some of the sauce over the sformato and drizzle with balsamic, then fresh gratings of parmesan cheese.