Posted by: lisetta | March 17, 2009


Was enamoured with a simple sformato di cavolfiore (cauliflower soufflé of sorts) tonight, unlike any other I had tasted before, and got to wondering about what specific characteristics define a sformato.  Can’t believe I’m actually citing, but here goes:

Put simply, a sformato is similar to a soufflé, but is not as airy. Getting down to specifics, Antionio Piccinardi says, in his Dizionario della Gastronomia Italiana, that the word sformato derives from sformare, which means to unmold. The batter (for want of a better term) used to make a sformato almost always contains beaten eggs (one occasionally finds white sauce instead), though what else goes into the preparation is up to the cook. 

Savory sformati can be made with vegetables, at which point they generally serve as side dishes or light entrees, or they can be made with pasta, potatoes, or rice, at which point they’re generally set in ring molds and used to accompany stews, which go into the well. Sformati can also be sweet. In almost all cases they’re served with sauces of one sort or another. 

A ha. The sformato I had last night was made with besciamella, “white sauce”. Must buy one soon so that I can try making it myself. 

The Google search led me to Guerrino Maculan, a beloved Italian chef whose video lessons inspire confidence. Here he makes a sformato with layers of cabbage, mortadella and asiago. A far cry from the delicate dish I ate, but an interesting idea nonetheless: 


  1. I love sformati. They’re so great for when you have company because they reheat really well. I have a recipe for a cauliflower sformato on my blog in case you’re interested (Jan.22).
    Good for you for turning a paucity of great ingredients into a nice soup.
    You need to get out more though girl – there are plenty of good markets in Philly.

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