Eggplant Timbale

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!

Perfectly assembled timbale in spring form pan

Collapsed timbale

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!

Success with the Pyrex baking dish

Eggplant Timbale

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!

pasta mixture


1 Response to “Eggplant Timbale”

  1. 1 Laura January 26, 2011 at 7:18 PM

    I have to laugh, because the whole thing collapsed on me, too!!! I was also so careful to make it look perfect beforehand.

    AFTER this happened, I noticed the comments at the bottom of the recipe on the Food Network website say to let the timbale rest for at LEAST 15 minutes. Of course, my fiance and I hadn’t eaten all day, so we waited 5 minutes at most:)

    Also, my meat mixture was very liquefied even after cooking it for the suggested time, so the next time I make it I’m going to drain the liquid before I pack it into the pan– I think that will make a HUGE difference.

    I totally agree with you– the thing tastes soooooo delicious!

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