Jim Dixon wrote about food for WW for more than 20 years, but these days most of his time is spent at his olive oil-focused specialty food business Wellspent Market. Jim’s always loved to eat, and he encourages his customers to cook by sending them recipes every week through his newsletter. We’re happy to have him back creating some special dishes just for WW readers.
Less eggy than a quiche and not as temperamental as a souffle, the savory flan that Italians call “sformato” is a tasty vehicle for a couple of my favorite winter vegetables, leeks and celeriac, aka celery root. Both are plentiful in local farmers markets and well-stocked produce sections, and eating them helps small farmers make it through the lean months.
The brown, mottled skin and shaggy roots make celeriac a bit daunting, but they’re not much harder to peel than a knobby potato (you can watch me peel a celeriac here). And after you taste it you’ll want to eat it more often. I like to add it to soups, but celeriac is also delicious raw, like in this salad with kimchi.
The name sformato comes from the Italian verb sformare, which, among other things, means to unmold. Sformati (the “i” at the end makes it plural) are typically baked in small ramekins and turned out onto a plate for serving, While it makes a nice presentation, I usually skip that step and serve the sformato right from the baking dish, usually a cast iron skillet. Pair it hot with a green salad for a simple dinner, though it’s just as good at room temperature.
Celeriac and Potato Sformato
1 medium celeriac (about 2 pounds)
2 yellow potatoes
1 large leek
1 pound ricotta cheese
4 ounces Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
1 teaspoon kosher-style sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Peel the celeriac and potatoes, then cut them into roughly egg-sized chunks. Put them in a pot, cover with water, add a pinch of salt, bring to a boil, reduce heat, and cook until tender, about 10-12 minutes. Drain, mash coarsely and transfer to a large bowl.
Cut off the upper, tougher portion of the leek so you have a mix of white and green parts. Slice the leek in half lengthwise, remove the outermost layer, and peel back a few layers to check for dirt, which is often trapped inside since soil is mounded around them as they grow. Rinse off any dirt, then slice each half crosswise into about 1/8-inch pieces.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Use olive oil to grease a 10-inch skillet or similar baking dish.
Add sliced leek, ricotta, Parmigiano, salt and pepper to the celeriac and potatoes. Mix well, then spread in an even layer in the skillet. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the top is golden brown. Serve hot or at room temperature.