Squash and cavolo sformato
This is one of my favourite dishes to cook with crown prince squash, an autumnal variety with a rich, sweet flesh and with a low water content. The smooth custardy texture of this Italian baked dish contrasts nicely with the cavolo leaves inside.
This recipe originally appeared in House & Garden magazine, photo courtesy of Andrew Montgomery
1.5kg firm-textured squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into 3cm chunks
8 garlic cloves, unpeeled
3tbsp olive oil
200g cavolo nero (or curly kale)
1tsp softened butter
50g Parmesan, grated
200g crème fraiche
Dried chilli flakes
A few gratings of nutmeg
- To cook the squash, heat the oven to 180°C/fan oven 160°C/mark 4.
- Put the squash in a large baking tray with the oregano leaves, garlic and oil. Toss everything together and season with salt and pepper. Arrange into a single layer and bake for 30-40 minutes or until completely soft when pierced with a knife. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
- When cool, squeeze the cooked garlic cloves from their skins (discard the skins) and pass the squash, herbs and garlic through a potato ricer or mouli-légumes. If you do not have either of these, use a sieve with large holes.
- To make the sformato, strip the cavolo nero leaves from the stalks and discard the stalks. Boil the leaves in plenty of well-salted water for 3 minutes, until tender, then drain and refresh under cold water. Squeeze dry and chop roughly.
- Turn up the oven to 200°C/fan oven 180°C/mark 6.
- Brush a medium baking dish (around 30cm long) with the butter and sprinkle with a few tablespoons of the Parmesan to coat the inside of the dish.
- Beat the ricotta and crème fraiche in an electric mixer or by hand with a wooden spoon, until creamy. Add the eggs, one by one, beating well after each addition, then add the squash, cavolo nero and remaining Parmesan. Season to taste with chilli flakes, nutmeg and more salt and pepper.
- Pour the sformato mixture into the prepared dish and bake for 35 minutes until the top puffs up slightly and browns and the centre is just set.