Carrot Sformati with Basil-Mascarpone Cream
The charming Italian
vegetable custards called sformatisingular is sformatoare most often served at important dinners. Optional blanched carrot slices draped over top add an elegant touch.
- 4 Tbs. butter
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups whole milk, heated
- 1 lb. carrots, peeled and trimmed
- 2 shallots, finely chopped
- 2 large eggs plus 2 egg yolks
- 3 Tbs. freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- Freshly ground nutmeg to taste
- ½ tsp. sea salt plus to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- ¼ cup dried breadcrumbs
- 3 cups mesclun greens
- 2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
- Splash red wine vinegar
- ½ cup mascarpone
- Juice of ½ lemon
- 1 ½ Tbs. finely chopped fresh basil
- 2 to 3 Tbs. whole milk, or as needed to thin
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- To make Sformati: Melt butter in saucepan over low heat. When it stops foaming, add flour, and stir with wooden spoon to make smooth paste. Cook, stirring continuously, until mixture turns light golden, for 2 to 3 minutes. Add hot milk at once, whisking to make smooth paste. Increase heat to medium-high and, when mixture comes to a slow boil, cook for 2 minutes more, gently whisking around entire bottom of pan. Remove from heat, pour into bowl and press square of plastic wrap directly onto surface. Set aside to cool completely, about 1 hour.
- Meanwhile, chop carrots, and steam until tender, about 15 minutes. Spray nonstick skillet with nonstick cooking spray, and sauté shallots over medium-high heat until softened and lightly browned, for about 3 minutes. Purée carrots and shallots in food processor fitted with metal blade for about 2 minutes, scraping down sides at least once.
- Preheat oven to 400F. Spray insides of 8 half-cup timbale cups or a 41/2-cup ring mold with nonstick cooking spray. Dust surface with breadcrumbs.
- Remove plastic wrap from milk mixture, and stir in eggs, yolks, Parmigiano-Reggiano, nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper. Stir in carrot mixture. Fill cups or mold with mixture, and place into roasting pan. Transfer to oven, and fill pan with hot water two-thirds of way up sides of cups or mold.
- Bake for 45 minutes for cups, about 1 hour 15 minutes for mold, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out dry. If sformati start to brown too quickly, cover with foil and continue cooking. Remove from oven, and set aside to cool for 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, to make Basil-Mascarpone Cream: Blend mascarpone, lemon juice and basil. Thin to desired consistency with milk. Add salt and pepper, and set aside.
- To serve, toss greens in bowl with olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Run knife around inside edges of molds, and turn sformati out onto individual salad plates. Garnish with greens and dollop of Basil-Mascarpone Cream.
This dish cries out for a crisp, zesty Italian white, perhaps a Luna di Luna Chardonnay-Pinot Grigio or a Pozzi Pinot Grigio. Both are dry and refreshing, a solid balance for the earthiness of carrot, and both beautifully enhance the marscarpone cream sauce.