Sformato di Cavolfiore: Cauliflower Sformato

I first saw a recipe for a ‘sformata’ over the summer in an Italian cooking magazine and have been dying to try one. ‘Sformata’ basically translates to ‘flan’ and can think of a million ways that I would like to try thi technique. So when this recipe popped up in the November issue of La Cucina Italiana, I had to add it to the menu for the holiday. This was very easy to make and I made it early morning on Thanksgiving and re-heated later in the day….was delicious! Light, fluffy and yummy! Enjoy!

Cauliflower Sformato (Sformato di Cavolfiore)

Recipe from La Cucina Italiana, November issue


  • For the béchamel:
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons plus 3⁄4 teaspoon unbleached all-purpose flour
  • Fine sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
  • For the cauliflower and custard:
  • 1 medium head cauliflower (about 2 1/2 pounds)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  •  2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup fine bread crumbs


Make the béchamel: Combine milk, butter and flour in a heavy medium saucepan; bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring constantly, first with a whisk, then with a wooden spoon, until sauce is very thick, about 20 minutes. Season to taste with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Remove béchamel from heat, strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a small bowl, and cover surface with plastic wrap to keep skin from forming. 

Cook the cauliflower:  Remove any leaves from cauliflower, leaving core intact. Cut cauliflower into quarters and put in a large pot. Add water to come up 1 inch. Cook, covered, over high heat until cauliflower is tender, about 20 minutes; then drain.

Trim tough stems from cauliflower, then, working with 1 quarter at a time, wrap cauliflower in a large, clean dishtowel (do not use a new, unwashed, colored dishtowel) and, over sink, twist dishtowel until all excess liquid is removed from cauliflower. Pulse cauliflower in a food processor until finely chopped.

Make the custard: Heat oven to 325°. Beat eggs in a large bowl; add béchamel and whisk to combine. Add cauliflower, cheese, salt and pepper; stir to combine.

Butter a 1 1 ⁄2- to 2-quart baking dish (or a similar size ring mold) with 2 tablespoons butter (it is important to use all of the butter) and coat with bread crumbs. Add cauliflower mixture. Bake until sformato sets and lightly browns, about 40 minutes. Remove the sformato from oven; let rest for 15 to 20 minutes, then unmold (optional). Serve warm or at room temperature.

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