Squash Sformato

Is it a timbale, soufflé or a pudding? That is the million-dollar question. Regardless just know it is delicious and can be made with any hard squash. It’s a great party dish that holds its heat and doesn’t have to be served screaming hot. With the abundance of butternut squash in my garden I researched many books when thinking about how I could use the vegetable. Two of my favorite recipes came from The Art of Eating Well by Pellegrino Artusi and The Silver Spoon from Phaidon publishers. It is also great as a vegetarian main course with a nice tomato sauce on the side.

The Sformato may be baked in an ovenproof gratin dish, pie dish or soufflé mold, individual custard cups or other small molds.

Serves 6-8

Bake the butternut squash at 350° until fork tender.
Slice in half, remove the seeds and scrape out the flesh, discarding the peel.

Purée the flesh in a food processor or grate it.

Basic Béchamel Sauce

Prepare the sauce while the squash is baking.

3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
2 ¼ -2 ½ cups whole milk
salt to taste
fresh ground black or white pepper to taste
fresh grated nutmeg to taste

Melt the butter and stir in the flour. Mix well and continue to cook over medium heat until it no longer smells raw. Slowly add the milk. Keep stirring and smooth out any lumps that might form.

Cook 15-20 minutes over low heat stirring often to insure it doesn’t stick to the pan. It should be thick and creamy, not tasting of raw flour or milk.

7 ½-8 cups puréed squash (about a 3-4 pound butternut squash or any hard squash)
3 eggs
½ cup finely grated Parmesan or Emmentaller cheese plus ¼ - 1/3 cup additional cheese
1 medium onion thinly sliced
2 tablespoons butter
½ cup pine nuts
salt and pepper to taste

In a sauté pan melt the butter over low heat, add the onions and sauté until they are soft, about 10 minutes.

Combine together the béchamel sauce, squash, eggs, onions, ½ cup cheese, salt and pepper and mix well. Fold in the pine nuts.

Butter an ovenproof gratin dish, pie dish, soufflé mold or custard cups if you are using them.

Fill the dish with the Sformato. Bake at 325° for 50 minutes to 1 hour until set. If using custard cups reduce the cooking time by about half. You can brown the top under the broiler if desired.