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Rainbow Chard Sformato

It was a cold night and cold leftover chard was staring at me from the fridge - not the most appealing thought. But I thought back to a summer heatwave in a farmhouse in the hills of Tuscany, nestled between marble-topped mountains and the sea, and an elderly lady named Egizia who taught me to make sformato.

She did it with August courgettes straight out of an earth that barely cooled, and my eggs won't taste like hers did, and the milk in my fridge didn't come from a cow that day, but this was late October in London. And there's something tenaciously vibrant about that chard staining the mixing bowl and eggy bechamel mixture with its red and amber juices.

It's not a quiche, nor a frittata, nor a pie and definitely not a souffle, as some corners of the internet would have you believe. It's a sformato.

Serves 3 or 4, depending on appetite. Apologies for the imperfect quantities, there's a fair amount of eyeing in this, particularly with the bechamel.

  • Quantity leftover chard (I had steamed mine the night before for a Sunday dinner). Probably about 100g

  • Salt, pepper, nutmeg, white pepper

  • 3 eggs

  • 20g butter

  • Bechamel

- 30g butter

- 30g flour

- splash milk

  • 2 cloves of garlic

  • 1 shallot

  • about 80g breadcrumbs

  • 1 tbsp milk

  • Zest of 1 lemon

  • 50g grated parmesan

  • Handful of chopped parsley

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees fan.

  2. Use 10g butter to butter a 20cm flan dish and scatter about half of the breadcrumbs over, so it's just scarcely covered.

  3. Make the bechamel. So, melt the butter in a saucepan. Stir in the flour and keep stirring until it's all combined and smells a bit toasted. Then add in milk, a splash at a time, until you get a recognisable lasagne-style white sauce. Boom. You're done.

  4. Finely slice the shallot and finely chop the garlic.

  5. Sauté the shallot until softened in the other 10g butter, when softened add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.

  6. Add the chard to the pan,and stir in the lemon zest. Cook for 1 minute.

  7. Beat the eggs with the parmesan in a medium bowl.

  8. Add the tablespoon of milk, a good grating of nutmeg, salt, pepper and a pinch of white pepper.

  9. Finely chop the parsley and stir into the egg mix.

  10. Add the bechamel and combine.

  11. Arrange the chard mixture in the tin.

  12. Pour over the wet mixture.

  13. Scatter the rest of the breadcrumbs on top.

  14. Cook for twenty minutes, or until set, then switch on the grill and brown the top for 5 minutes.

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