Lately I have been attempting to try more recipes from my cookbook collection. So last week I was flipping through this book, and came across this recipe for Eggplant Timbale. It sounded interesting, and it seemed like a good opportunity to use my brand new spring form pan that was a wedding gift from my friend Meghan. I don’t care for cheesecake, so pasta seemed like the perfect thing to bake in a spring form pan!
I made a few modifications to the recipe to tailor it to my taste, mainly by adding zucchini, using Parmesan cheese & part-skim mozzarella cheese instead of smoked mozzarella & Pecorino Romano, and substituting Chardonnay for the Marsala wine. The resulting dish tasted great, but the spring form pan was a flop (literally!) As soon as I turned the pan over to invert it onto the plate, (hoping to get a perfectly shaped timbale like the picture in Giada’s book), it completely flopped all over the plate & counter!
It made me laugh because it totally caught me off guard. When I was assembling the timbale, I was so careful to make it look perfect, and then it just completely collapsed all over the counter. Nevertheless, it still tasted delicious.
I made this recipe again last night for a family dinner, and this time I assembled the timbale in a 13×9 inch Pyrex baking dish. This worked MUCH better. This recipe is a definite keeper & I will be making it again!
Recipe adapted from Giada De Laurentiis (Cookbook: ‘Giada’s Kitchen’)
Serves: 6-8 servings
- 1 medium eggplant, sliced ¼ inch thick
- 4-6 zucchini, sliced ¼ inch thick
- 1/3 cup olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pound penne pasta
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
- ½ pound ground beef
- ½ pound sweet Italian pork sausage, removed from casings
- ¼ cup dry white wine
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 4 cups marinara sauce
- 1 ½ cups shredded part skim mozzarella cheese
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- ¾ cup chopped fresh basil leaves, plus 2 tbsp.
Place a grill pan over medium-high heat or pre-heat a gas or charcoal grill. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the eggplant slices with 1/3 cup olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. (Or you can just place the sliced eggplant/zucchini in a large bowl & toss with the olive oil & salt to coat). Grill the eggplant & zucchini until tender and colored with grill marks, about 4 minutes per side. Set aside. (Note: You can omit the eggplant & just use zucchini, if desired).
Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally. Drain pasta.
Meanwhile, warm the 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté 1-2 minutes. Add the beef and Italian sausage, and brown the meat, breaking it into bite-sized pieces with a wooden spoon until fully cooked. Add the wine and cook until the liquid has evaporated, about 3 minutes. Add the peas and marinara, stir to combine, and simmer 5 minutes. Turn off the heat. Stir in the basil and cooked pasta. Season with salt & pepper if desired.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Line a 13×9 inch baking dish with the grilled eggplant and zucchini, alternating. Then layer the pasta, mozzarella & parmesan cheeses, and top with another layer of eggplant & zucchini. Repeat. Top with one last layer of eggplant/zucchini to completely enclose the pasta. Bake until warmed through and the cheese has melted, about 30 minutes. Serve with the remaining Parmesan cheese & basil. Enjoy!