Sformato of porcini

Sformato of porcini

Modern Italian Food
Earl Carter

I am a big fan of soft sformati, which are a kind of Italian custard made with a béchamel sauce. Almost any vegetable can be turned into a sformato: mushrooms, zucchini, capsicum, eggplant – you name it. They are vegetarian and can be served cold as a starter or as a main course accompaniment. They save my life whenever vegetarians are in for dinner.

Porcini are Italian dried mushrooms. They are expensive, but you only need to use a few. You could also use porcini oil, which has some merit if not allowed to get too old and oxidised. A few drops can increase flavour.


Quantity Ingredient
100g dried porcini mushrooms
200g cultivated mushrooms
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup grated parmesan
salt and pepper
250ml bechamel sauce, (see note)


  1. Soak the porcini mushrooms in twice their volume of warm water for about 10 minutes to reconstitute them. Squeeze dry and combine with the cultivated mushrooms.
  2. Heat the butter and oil in a frying pan and sauté the mushrooms. Cook until the liquid has reduced and then purée in a food processor.
  3. Preheat the oven to 160°C.
  4. Mix the mushrooms with the béchamel sauce, egg and parmesan, and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Mix well and pour into 6 lightly greased plastic dariole moulds (which are available from many supermarkets) or ceramic soufflé ramekins. Fold a tea towel and place in the bottom of a deep baking tray. Arrange the dariole moulds in the tray and pour in enough warm water to come halfway up the sides of the moulds. Bake in the oven for about 35 minutes, or until set. The sformato should be fairly firm to the touch.


  • To make the béchamel sauce, melt 150 g butter and mix with 100 g flour. Cook a little but without browning. Stir in 1.5 litres milk, bit by bit, mixing with a wooden spoon. Initially the mixture will be like a gluggy lump but as you add the milk it will break down more and more. Cook it gently for 20 minutes or more, taking care that it does not stick to the bottom of the pan. Add freshly grated nutmeg to taste. This recipe should yield a fairly soft sauce, which is what we want. If it is too thick add more milk or water. If you think you have some lumps in it, pass it through a fine sieve and everything will be all right.
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