From The Vegeterranean: Italian Vegetarian Cooking, Malu Simões & Alberto Musacchio, Simon & Schuster, 2008.
I’ve always wanted to make those small mats made of Parmesan so this recipe gave me the excuse to set to work and make them.
Firstly I needed to make the sformatini. In a pan I cooked a chopped shallot in some olive oil for about half a minute then added 2 grated zucchini, a pinch of dried marjoram and a good sprinkle of white pepper. These were cooked for about 15 minutes when then had softened and become reasonably dry in the pan. They were taken off the heat and left to cool.
In a bowl I mixed 100g ricotta cheese with a tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese. These were whisked around with a fork until they had become fully integrated. I now pushed the cheese to the side of the bowl, added two eggs (the recipe called for one egg and two whites but I chose to go with two full eggs) and beat them until they were combined, then stirred them into the cheese. Now the zucchini mix was added with seasoning to taste.
I took a silicon muffin tin and greased it. In the bottom of each opening placed a little square of baking paper. The zucchini mix was added. It actually filled 4 spaces not the whole six. The tin was placed in a baking dish and boiling water poured in to come up to half way on the muffin tin. This then went into a 180ºC oven for about half an hour.
While it was cooking the Parmesan mats were made. The cheese was grated and amounts of about 3 tablespoons were sprinkled into a medium heat non-stick pan. When they began to colour they were carefully lifted (not easy) and placed over a greased ramekin. The edges were gently folded down and it was left for about a minute to cool and set. The process was not easy though it became better as I got more practice but they had to be made one at a time.
When the sformatini were unmoulded they were each placed on a Parmesan mat and a dob of olive sauce added on top. This was made by chopping about a tablespoon black olives and mixing them with some olive oil, a drop of Tabasco, salt to taste and a smashed garlic clove .
I enjoyed making these and, equally, eating them. They looked good on the plate and were pleasantly flavoured. The gentle flavours of the zucchini moulds were enhanced by the salty crisp Parmesan mats and the fully flavoured olive sauce.
Ease of cooking: ✔✔✔