4 red bell peppers, approximately 4 oz. each, washed and dried
2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup finely diced red onion
1 Tbs. minced garlic
1 Tbs. tomato paste
1½ tsp. kosher salt
3/4 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. fennel seeds, toasted
1/4 tsp. white pepper
1/2 tsp. red chili flakes
1 tsp. sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 tsp. cornstarch
2 eggs plus 1 yolk, lightly whisked together
Preheat the oven on broil or to its highest temperature.
Lay the peppers on a baking sheet and put it in the oven. Turn the peppers as they blacken, roasting them until all sides are charred. Remove the peppers from the oven, place them in a bowl, and cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. As the peppers steam, their skins will loosen. Once cool, peel off and discard the blackened skins. Remove the stems and seeds and slice the peppers into one-inch strips.
Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, but not smoking, add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until soft, six to eight minutes. Don’t let them brown; reduce the heat if necessary.
Stir in the tomato paste and cook for one minute. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Stir in the salt, paprika, fennel seed, white pepper, chili flakes, and sugar. Stir in the cream and milk, return to the stove, and bring to a simmer.
Add the pepper strips and return to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the flavors blend. Remove from the heat and stir in the cornstarch, being careful to evenly distribute it.
Let cool for 30 minutes. Once cool, add the whisked eggs. In a blender, purée the mixture on high speed. (If not baking immediately, cover and refrigerate. The mixture will hold for one week in this form. Bring it to room temperature before baking.)
Preheat the oven to 300°F. Coat four (four-ounce) molds or foil cups with vegetable spray. Pour the mixture into the molds. Arrange the filled molds in a four-inch-deep baking dish, and place it in the oven. Carefully pour warm water into the baking dish until it is three-quarters of the way up the sides of the molds. Bake for one hour, or until the sformati have set and begun to pull away from the sides of the molds. To serve, invert the molds onto plates. Serve as a side, or pair with a creative accompaniment such as an arugula, anchovy, and breadcrumb salad (below).
Arugula, Anchovy, & Breadcrumb Salad
For the anchovy dressing:
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 salt-packed anchovy, spine removed, salt and scales washed off
Pinch kosher salt
2 Tbs. finely diced red onion
2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
In a blender, purée the olive oil, anchovy, salt, and onion. With the blender running, slowly add the lemon juice and blend until the dressing has emulsified.
For the salad:
3 cups stemmed arugula
1 Tbs. breadcrumbs, toasted in olive oil
Toss the arugula with the breadcrumbs and dressing.