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Ricotta and Tomato Sformato

A sformato is a souffle-like dish often made with vegetables. Sformati are often baked in ring molds and sometimes in ramekins, but here a simple ceramic baking dish is used. You can also serve this dish in smaller portions as an antipasto, or it can be the centerpiece of a light lunch, accompanied with marinated olives, salami and a green salad. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, stemmed and halved 
  • 1 Tbs. unsalted butter, at room temperature 
  • 2 Tbs. fine dried bread crumbs 
  • 2 cups whole-milk ricotta cheese 
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese 
  • 2 eggs 
  • 2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme 
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste 

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 350°F. Lightly brush a rimmed baking sheet with oil.

Squeeze the tomato halves gently to extract the seeds and juice. Arrange the tomatoes, cut side up, on the prepared baking sheet. Bake the tomatoes until they are wrinkled, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. Leave the oven on.

Generously grease an 8-inch baking dish with the butter. Sprinkle the dish with the bread crumbs and tap out the excess.

In a bowl, whisk together the ricotta and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheeses, eggs and 1 tsp. of the thyme. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in half of the tomatoes. Scrape the mixture into the prepared dish and smooth the top. Top with the remaining tomato halves, cut side down. Sprinkle with the remaining thyme.

Bake until the sformato is set around the edges but still slightly soft in the center, about 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly, about 10 minutes. Run a knife around the inside edge of the dish to loosen the sides of the sformato and serve warm. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Italian by Michele Scicolone (Oxmoor House, 2007).