The beautiful thing about dysphagia is that it makes you experiment with food and sustenance. Dysphagia (difficulty or discomfort in swallowing – to put it mildly) means you have to get creative about how you nourish your body and you are limited by what you can swallow without choking, coughing or aspirating.
Enter Sformato a fairly basic Italian dish that is similar to a souffle with out the anxiety of it loosing its puff! Here’s a simple recipe I have developed for ease of labour and swallow. I am looking forward to experimenting with eggplant and bechamel sauce and possibly making a “ring” sformato with a ragu in the middle.
2 kilos of zucchini or 3-4 zucchini (small)
1 medium onion or equivalent with leek or shallots
200 grams whole milk ricotta
3 large eggs
¼ cup of grated parmesan or pecorino cheese
3 tablespoons of oil ( enough to film the pan)
Salt and pepper to taste
Freshly grated nutmeg
Pre heat oven to 200 degrees
Generously butter a 4-5 cup loaf tin or its equivalent in ramekins
Slice the onion (or shallots, leek) and saute in a pan with a film of olive oil or butter
Clean and slice the zucchini (or other vegetable – see note)
When the onions are soft add the zucchini to the pan
Saute stirring frequently for about 20 -30 minutes until they are light golden and just tender
During this time mix the ricotta, eggs, grated cheese, salt & pepper, nutmeg in a bowl whisking until reasonably smooth
When the zucchini mixture is luke warm, combine with the ricotta mixture and roughly puree with an immersion blender of a food processor.
Spoon into prepared moulds ( I use a flatter glass baking dish)
A large mould will take up to 45 minutes to bake but individual ones will take less than 20 minutes
Check by inserting a knife and if it comes out clean then it’s ready
Unmould when its slightly cool and serve with a sauce and garnish.
Note: the more eggs used the firmer the final dish. Sformato literally means “unmoulded” and it’s a basic dish with an amazing flavour and consistency.
It’s something that can be made seasonally and vegetables to be used may include asparagus, mushroom, pumpkin or fennel. This Italian vegetable mould is an excellent dish for children and adults, this style of sformato should have a sauce, such as slightly wilted zucchini blossoms in melted butter with herbs, or a fresh tomato sauce.
These keep well, covered, in the fridge I reheat in the microwave covered in fresh tomato sauce.