Timballo of pasta with eggplants
The timballo di anelletti is made with only and exclusively with this specific pasta shape. It was certainly born in Palermo, and later spread throughout the Southeast part of Sicily, a large island of Italy. From aristocratic tables and sumptuous buffets, it also became a typical dish for picnics, summer trips, or for Easter Monday: it was easy to transport and serve.
There are many variations for this recipe, made with meat ragù or with meatballs, salami or ham, enriched with peas or artichokes, sometime boiled eggs are added as well with “primo sale” or other local cheese from Ragusa area.
This version is especially thought for vegetarian people, for those in love with Mediterranean flavors. There isn’t a traditional Sicilian cheeses in this timballo, replaced with scamorza cheese and, of course, Grana Padano.
The tomato sauce is prepared with vegetables (onions, celery, carrot) cooked over a very low heat, so that they slowly release the pleasant aromatic notes. At the end, the sauce is enriched with fresh basil. 
During summer is preferable to use fresh tomatoes, as long they are ripe and juicy, otherwise choose preserved ones. 
It is very difficult to be precise on the quantity and cooking time: the different varieties of tomato purè or peeled tomatoes can change completely the result. 
The aubergines that line the timbale are usually deep fried. I rather prefer to cook them in the oven, brushed on both sides with oil, arranged on a parchment paper lined baking tray: it’s more practical and less olive oil is used, making them lighter.
Difficulty
Medium
Serves
6/8 people
Variety
Savoury pie
Francesca D'Orazio
Ingredients
400 g of pasta, suggested shape anelletti
2-3 eggplants
2 fresh red onions (Tropea)
2 carrots
1 celery rib
1.2 L (approx.) tomato purè
150 g Grana Padano Riserva DOP, grated
250 g of scamorza cheese, grated 
30 g of butter
Fresh basil
Extra virgin olive oil
salt
pepper



 
Preparation
Heat the oven to 180°C.
Fore the tomato sauce: arrange onions, carrots and celery in a saucepan, cut into pieces with 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil, few basil leaves basil and cook over very low heat, for about 20 minutes. If necessary add few tablespoons of water or vegetable broth (alternatively, place in a glass bowl, cover with microwave cling film and cook in the microwave at 750 W for 3 minutes).
Transfer to a saucepan, add the tomato puree and cook the sauce over medium heat for about 1 hour, salt halfway through cooking. Add, at the end, few basil leaves to flavor. 
Remove the vegetables and pass the sauce through the vegetable mill. If you prefer, you can leave carrot and onion: the sauce will the lighter in color almost orange, and the onion flavor will be more pronounced). 
Let it cool. Add butter and half of the grated Grana Padano.
Meanwhile, wash, and cut lengthwise the aubergines (1/2 cm). Arrange them on a parchment paper lined baking tray, brush both sides with oil, salt, and bake for about 40 minutes, until they turn golden.
If the oil is excessive, dab them with paper towels.
Cook anelletti pasta, drain it “al dente”; season with 3/4 of the sauce.
Line a round mold (18-20 cm) with the aubergine slices (you’ll need about 20 slices). Let the edges overflowing . Layer the seasoned pasta, scamorza cheese and grated Grana Padano, and repeat until all ingredients are used. Cover with the sauce kept aside. Sprinkle with Grana Padano. Fold the overflowing part of  the aubergine slices over the pasta to seal the timbale. Transfer to the oven.
Bake for about 20 minutes.
Leave to rest for at least 10 minutes before serving.



 
The eggplants
There are many varieties of this extraordinary vegetable, which for a long time was believed to be poison, then they slowly entered in all kitchens, from North to South Italy.
There are so many varieties: dark violet, violet, striped, white, red. Oval, round, or long, more or less thin. 
Most of eggplant varieties are widely grown in South part of Italy due to the Mediterranean climate.
They range from the more bitter and slightly spicy flavor of the long aubergine from Naples, to the sweet and gentle of the violet Florentine.
Each region has its own, and their dishes reflect local qualities. The Palermitana (known as well as Tunisian) has a bright dark purple color, and  is perfect for the typical Sicilian recipes, like eggplant parmigiana or pasta alla Norma.
The Violetta from Napoli, with a pungent flavor is perfect for the local melanzane a funghetto, stir fried eggplants. 
Finally, the rounded and red eggplant from Rotonda (Melanzana Rossa di Rotonda PDO). It looks somewhat similar to a tomato. The perfume is reminiscent of prickly pear, this eggplant is slightly piquant and bitter.
They are generally prepared on the grill and seasoned with good quality of olive oil, salt, vinegar and oregano.
 
One more idea
Cut 2 dark eggplants in half, lengthwise, indent the pulp deeply with checkerboard cuts. Grease them well and salt. Place them on the baking tray lined with parchment paper.
Bake at 180°C for about 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, cut 400 g of cherry tomatoes into quarters, season with olive oil, salt, pepper, oregano.
Serve the eggplant "boats" with the cherry tomatoes put on top and complete with small flakes of Grana Padano POD
 
How to serve ice cream
With the heat of the summer days, you certainly don't want to turn on the oven to prepare a dessert, we all love having some good ice cream as dessert.
If you prefer to serve ice cream in single portions, you can plan in advance your work - preparing ice cream balls with the ice cream scoop, arrange them on a tray lined with cling film or parchment paper, and keeping these in the freezer ready to be arranged in a cup and served. 
When preparing the ice cream balls, I suggest to have on the side a bowl of water, in order to wet the spoon before forming the ball: in this way the shape will be perfect since the ice cream won’t stick to the scoop. 
Another idea, is to make an ice-cream cake. I suggest to use the practical silicone molds, smooth or decorated. You can fill it with only one flavor (for example vanilla or a fruit flavor), keep in the freezer for 3-4 hours. Before serving, un-mold onto the plate and garnish with whipped cream, or fresh fruit, as you would do on a festive cake.
You can also make several layers of ice cream, but being careful to spread one flavor at a time, let it cool well in the freezer before adding the next flavor (e.g. chocolate, hazelnut, cream or three chocolates: dark, milk, white or even fior di latte, pistachio and strawberry…  depending on the taste of the guests).
Serve the  ice cream cake together with vanilla or chocolate sauce.
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