Monday, April 3, 2023

Spinach Sformato

 Spring is finally here and that means a return to all the leafy green vegetables associated with the changing season -- including spinach. This recipe takes the humble spinach up a few notches, and would make the perfect first course to your Easter or Passover meal. Plus it can be made ahead of time (actually it's easier to unmold if you do make it ahead of time).

I used two boxes of frozen spinach, but you could substitute fresh spinach if you prefer. The sformati get baked in small ramekins in a bain marie (water bath) to ensure even cooking. This recipe makes anywhere from six to eight servings, depending on how high you fill the ramekins

I like to bake them ahead of time, chill them (overnight is fine) then reheat in the microwave until warm, and flip them out. Serve them with an irresistible fontina cream sauce that's a cinch to make, then top with toasted pine nuts. Dig into this luscious morsel of springtime.

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Spinach Sformato

(eight 1/2 cup serving)
2 boxes frozen spinach, thawed
2 cups milk or a combination of milk and cream
1/2 stick unsalted butter, plus more for greasing molds
1/4 cup flour plus 2 T.
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
salt, white pepper, to taste
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 cup shredded fontina cheese
optional: toasted pine nuts
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
Thaw the boxes of spinach in the refrigerator overnight.
Remove the paper from the boxes of spinach, and squeeze as much water out of it using your hands.
Butter seven or eight 3/4 cup oven-proof custard cups or flan molds and preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Place the squeezed spinach between paper towels and squeeze more water from it.
Chop the spinach finely in a food processor.
Heat the milk in a saucepan until warm and little bubble start to form.
In another saucepan over low heat, melt the butter, then add the flour and stir and cook for a couple of minutes until smooth.
It will start to get “pasty,” but that’s fine.
Add the milk and continue to stir constantly, using either a whisk or wooden spoon, for about five minutes.
Let the mixture cool slightly, then add to the spinach in the food processor and whir until everything is well blended and pureed.
Beat the eggs and add the parmesan cheese.
Add the eggs and parmesan cheese mixture to the spinach mixture in the food processor and whir until everything is mixed.
Pour into the buttered molds and put the molds in a bain-marie or hot water bath.
Bake for about 25-30 minutes until the sformati are puffed slightly and feel just firm to the touch.
Remove the molds from the water and let them rest for a few minutes minutes before trying to unmold.
If you unmold too soon, they won’t hold their shape.
They actually hold their shape better the next day when you reheat them.
I reheated them by microwaving them in their molds, then flipped them out onto individual plates.
Place the heavy cream in a saucepan, and reduce until it coats the back of a spoon.
Remove from heat, add the fontina and stir.
Spoon the fontina cream sauce around the spinach sformati.
Sprinkle with toasted pine nuts to serve.

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