Hello my friends, how are you? is it already spring where you live? my rosemaries are clouds of purple at the moment!
Once again I am back from a wonderful, two weeks visit to the USA. I can’t believe that a few days ago ago I was gazing at Rhode Island and Cape Cod’s blue waters and enjoying a marvelous seafood risotto in Boston North End. So much has happened in such a short time.
Besides meeting and cooking with old and new friends, I was honored to collaborate with several amazing chefs to create Umbrian dinners all over Massachusetts and Rhode Island. We had full house and a fabulous atmosphere at all my events!
I started my trip with 2 very exciting cookbook dinners in Providence which were hosted by the Vice Consul of Italy in RI and Sprezzatura Travel. At both events, one held at Matunuck Oyster Bar and one at Providence’s Art Club, I presented about food and cooking as a way to share heritage, tradition and culture.
We also had a book signing at beautiful Belmont Market with a tasting of chickpea salad, focaccia and ciambelline cookies from my recipes. Among the stream of people who visited us, I was delighted to see my dear friends Sao and Rick who drove all the way from Virginia to come to see me. I could not stop myself crying in the market because of such a gesture of love!
After the high life in Providence, I moved to off-season Cape Cod and in the arms of my friend – and Assisi’s honorary citizen – Lynn Guardino. For a moment it almost felt like a holiday, but you should never underestimate a tourist town in the winter! Thanks to Lynn’s flamboyant energy no one was allowed to stay home. I was welcome by several enthusiastic groups of food and Italy loving people at 3 different locations including the adorable Margot and family at Firestarters, Dennis most popular pizza restaurant for another delicious Umbrian dinner.
My last two stops were not less glorious. I spent a couple of days at Cooking with Abby in Norwell with my partner in crime Abby and her sweet family. Abby has been bringing her tours guests to our cooking classes for a couple of years and now I know why everybody loves her. Her space is breathtaking and her food is superb!
My visit ended in Boston with one last cookbook dinner and presentation Caffe Zia Gianna with Nino and a super fun cooking session at my long time friend and Italy’s addict Colleen. Thank you Mindy, Beth and Holly for joining a class every time we meet!
I met Nino 2 years ago during my first trip to Boston and I was so happy to see him in its cozy brand new cafè. Nino and I should be neighbors, we would have a grand time cooking together and sharing recipes and stories.
And now finally, this month recipe, a zucchini “sformato” which I am sure you have encountered in many restaurants in Italy and may be wondered how to reproduce.
A sformato is a typical Italian savory flan, something in between a French souffle and a frittata. It has all the same creamy texture of the souffle, without the complication of whipping egg whites and be worried about collapsing tops. A sformato is also easy to make gluten-free, just use corn starch instead of flour in the mixture. Sformato is often made with béchamel, but I prefer good quality ricotta which makes it even easier and faster to prepare.
You can pour the vegetable mixture in a bread mold but I prefer to serve it as a pretty appetizer in individual ramekins. It’s also a great light lunch with a side of crusty bread or a potato salad.
- 450 g zucchini, washed ( about 1 lb or four 8 inch long zucchini)
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1 tablespoon mint (or basil)
- 120 g (4 oz) fresh ricotta
- 4 tablespoon grated Parmesan
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- a sprinkle black pepper
- 1 large egg
- 1 tablespoon corn starch
- 2 tablespoon milk
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Reserve the smallest of the 4 zucchini. Dice or slice the other 3 zucchini and sautè over medium heat until just starting to become golden, then add one clove of very finely minced garlic and the mint or basil, stir briefly and remove from heat. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer into a food processor, add the cheese, egg, cornstarch, milk and blend to achieve a smooth pudding-like consistency.
Using a mandolin or potato peeler slice the reserved zucchini into long, paper-thin strips. Oil six 3/4 cup (140-150 ml) ramekins. Brush slices with olive oil on both sides and use them to line the ramekins. Pour the mixture into the molds and fold over the zucchini slices, topping with 1/2 teaspoon butter.
At this point you can bake the sformato in preheated oven at 180 °C (350 °F) for 15 to 20 min, until set. You can also cover with parchment paper or microwave plastic wrap and cook them in the microwave at 500 W for 7 min.
Allow the sformato to cool, then un-mold and serve.