Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Anna Sultana's Timbale - Pasta Casserole, Maltese Style

No doubt about it, winter is coming.
It’s getting cold.
To stay warm we have to burn calories.
Try to exist on salads and you’ll freeze to death.

Nope, carbohydrates are what we need now.
Ah….. carbohydrates!
Back in February, 2010, I compared Carmela's Baked Ziti to Ma's Timpana.
In those days my posts weren't very heavy on actual instructions.

I would write lines like 

Maltese cooking is heavy on simple carbs. Maltese go beyond simple into downright retarded. A pan filled with macaroni is not enough starch. Oh, no. What makes a Timpana unique is it is baked like an apple pie.


A recipe that’s similar to Timpana is Timbale.
It has the same amount of starch, but more vegetables.
And it is perfect for when eggplants are on sale.


Hints:

About the macaroni…
Usually Ma used ziti.
Sometimes penne.
In a pinch, elbow.
You want something that can be filled by the sauce. 
Spaghetti would just lay there.
Not a good thing.

When laying the eggplant in the bundt pan start from the centre of the pan so that a part of the slice will hang outside the pan. 


                        Timbale

Serves 5 - 6

Wash and trim the ends from
2 medium eggplants (about 1 pound)
Slice them lengthwise, about 1/4 inch thick.
Place the slices in a colander or on a large cookie sheet.
Sprinkle them with 
salt
Let drain for 30 minutes to remove bitterness.
Rinse the eggplants and pat dry.

Preheat the oven to 350º
Lightly coat the slices with
Extra Virgin olive oil
Place them on the cookie sheets.
Bake them for 10 minutes at 350º.  
Set them aside.

While the eggplant is baking, cube
1/2 pound mortadella
1 pound mozzarella
Set aside.

In a dutch oven pour
2 Tablespoons olive oil
Add
1 onion, chopped
Fry until translucent.
Add
1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 pound ground pork
Fry until lightly browned.
Remove excess fat.
Add
1/2 pound peas
1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon salt, more or less
Cover and let the sauce simmer for 20 minutes.

While the sauce is simmering, in a large pot place
4 quarts water
salt to taste
Bring to a boil.
Add
1 pound macaroni, about
Cook, stirring frequently, until the pasta is al dente.
Drain the pasta, run it under cold water, drain again and return it to the pot.
Stir in a few spoonfuls of the sauce.

Line a 10" x 5" bundt pan with all of the eggplant slices.
Add half of the pasta followed by half of the meat sauce.
Sprinkle with half of the cubed mortadella and mozzarella.
1/4 Cup Parmesan cheese, grated  

Add the remaining half of the pasta followed by the meat sauce.
Sprinkle with the remaining cubed mortadella and mozzarella.
1/4 Cup Parmesan cheese, grated 
Flip the part of the eggplant slices that is hanging over the rim of the pan over the pasta / cheese mixture.

Preheat oven to 375º           
Bake for 45 minutes.
Allow to cool 15 minutes.
Invert over serving platter.

Timbale is best served hot.
But it is also delicious cold and is great for picnics.

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