Sunday, June 22, 2008

(Non) Eggplant Timbale

I saw Giada make this on Everyday Italian probably about a month ago, and even though I don't like eggplant, I wanted to make it. Well, I wanted to make the filling, that is. It looked like everything I'd want to make on a rainy Friday night. Well, my plan was foiled a bit when I stepped out of my office at 6 p.m. to find blue skies and sunshine instead of the heavy wind and torrential downpour going on when I walked by a window an hour earlier. I decided to make it anyway. I liked it, but I would make some changes the next time I make it. Those will be noted at the bottom. I hope you enjoy it!

Penne Timbale
Recipe by Giada de Laurentiis, originally Eggplant Timbale
Serves 4-6
Cook & Prep Time - about 1 hr


2 TBSP olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound penne pasta
1 medium onion, diced
1/4 pound ground beef
1/3 pound Italian sausage
1/4 cup Marsala wine
1 cup frozen peas, thawed (I omitted)
2 cups store-bought marinara sauce
1 1/2 cups diced mozzarella cheese (about 6 ounces)
3/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus 1/4 cup
1 cup chopped fresh basil leaves


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta.

Meanwhile, warm the 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and saute until tender, about 3 minutes. Add the beef and pork, and brown the meat, breaking it into bite-sized pieces with a wooden spoon, about 5 minutes. Add the Marsala and cook until the liquid has evaporated, about 3 minutes. Turn off the heat. Add the peas and marinara sauce and stir to combine. Add the cheeses, basil, and cooked pasta. Set aside.

Fill a casserole dish with the pasta mixture and bake the timbale about 30 minutes. Let rest on the counter for 5 minutes to set.

* I think I would add ricotta or mascarpone cheese next time. The flavor was good, but it was missing a certain creaminess. I think mixing ricotta or mascarpone cheese with mozzarella would create that needed texture

** This needs a chunkier tomato sauce. I used a smooth marinara and found it to be a bit lacking.

***I'm not sure what the ground beef added, except to dull down the Italian sausage spice. I think I'd try it with just Italian sausage.

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