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A short (as in: detail-poor) recipe for zucchini and carrot soufflé in an Italian magazine inspired this dish that found a more satisfactory realization as a savory cake, baked in a springform pan. The sketchiness of the recipe (which I believe I still have in the house, though my inability to locate it puts in doubt such believe) left ample room for my experiments. From the very beginning, however, I was clear on one thing: I would use a lot of zucchine for it.
I came up with my idea of how much of each vegetable to use. I also set aside the béchamel sauce in favor of a velouté sauce that uses olive oil for the roux and my homemade stock as liquid. The given number of eggs was not enough to make the base into a "real" soufflé, so I thought of using a springform pan to bake the mixture and was happy with the result, so the soufflé turned into a cake.
The recipe entails preparing the vegetables and the sauce: this can be done separately and in advance, making this dish a nice option for a dinner with guests where you don't want to have a lot to do at the last minute. I make it often for the two of us, since we both like it a lot.
- 1.5 lbs. zucchini
- 8 oz. carrots
- olive oil
- 2 cups homemade light chicken stock or vegetable stock
- 3.5 tablespoons olive oil (olio d'oliva) of good quality
- 3.5 tablespoons all-purpose flour (farina)
- grated nutmeg
- 2 eggs (due uova)
- 1/4 cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano
- sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Prepare the vegetables:
- scrub carrots, scrape skin off with a knife, then rinse
- steam carrots until tender; when cool, dice them
- wash zucchini and dice them
- cook zucchini in a lightly oiled nonstick skillet, uncovered, until tender, stirring often
- mix the vegetables and season them with salt and pepper to taste
Prepare the velouté sauce:
Use the given quantities of flour, olive oil and stock to prepare the velouté sauce according to Deborah Madison's recipe for béchamel sauce in her "Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone" (one of the variations she lists at the end of the recipe mentions the possibility of making a non-dairy version with olive oil and stock). Most often, I use my homemade light chicken stock, because I have more of that than of vegetable stock in my freezer.
Read carefully the recipe as Madison explains the reason behind the long cooking time. I warm up the stock in the microwave while the roux is cooking. I then pour the hot liquid into the pan all at once, while stirring with a whisk. Note that I don't add the aromatics listed in the recipe to the stock, since it already contains them.
Assemble and bake the cake:
Separate the eggs: add the yolks to the sauce and let the whites come to room temperature in a small bowl. Heat oven to 400 F and place a rack in the middle. Line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper and lightly oil the inner surface of the ring. Add the cheese to the sauce and stir to incorporate that and the egg yolks. Add a pinch of salt to the egg whites, then beat them until firm peaks form.
Add the vegetables to the sauce and stir well (be delicate!), then add about 1/3 of the egg whites and fold in using a spatula and a delicate hand. Add the rest of the egg whites and again fold in. Pour into prepared springform pan and place in the oven. Turn down the temperature to 375 F. (This baking mode is the same as for soufflés.)
Bake until the surface is golden. It usually takes me 42 minutes, but as we know, ovens differ. Take out of the oven and let sit for a couple of minutes, then run a thin spatula around the edge and remove the ring. Slice (be careful: the cake is fairly delicate) and serve immediately.
I have not yet tried to use the same base recipe with a different combination of vegetables. When the torta is made with fresh vegetables from the farmers' market, the flavor of zucchini and carrots is really a delicate pleasure for the palate.
This post contains the roundup of the event.
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Per i lettori italiani
Subito dopo aver pubblicato il post, Marta di Mangiare è un po' come viaggiare ha espresso un interesse per la ricetta e gliel'ho tradotta. L'intenzione era quella di aggiungere la traduzione a questo post, ma nel frattempo Marta non solo ha realizzato la ricetta, ma ha anche scritto un post carinissimo sulla sua esperienza e quindi e con grande piacere che vi invito a visitare il suo blog e a leggere i dettagli.