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Timbale incorporates eggplant, ditalini pasta
This dish could be baked in individual serving size tartlet molds or in a large pastry shell, according to the number of guests and the kind of effect you wish to create. When well done, it is a work of art, mainly because the process of putting it together requires many steps, pots and pans.
For variation, you can substitute zucchini for the eggplant and marinara tomato sauce for the basil pesto. Also, whether you bake or grill the eggplant is up to you. Another addition is to prepare a tomato-bell pepper sauce and serve it with the baked timbale.
EGGPLANT DITALINI TIMBALE
3 medium eggplants
1⁄2 pound ditalini pasta
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1⁄4 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided use
1 yellow onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1⁄2 pound organic ground beef
1⁄4 cup Greek oregano
1 cup basil pesto
1 cup white wine
2 farm-fresh eggs, beaten
2 cups grated Parmesan cheese, divided use
Thinly slice the eggplants lengthwise, sprinkle with salt and ground pepper, brush with olive oil and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes, or until they begin to turn brown but not burn. Remove eggplant from the baking pan and carefully place on paper towels to absorb the excess oil.
In large pot, bring 5 cups of water to a boil and cook the pasta for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until al dente. Add 1 tablespoon of kosher salt and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Drain the pasta and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. Set the pasta aside.
In another pot, sauté the onions in 1⁄4 cup of olive oil for five minutes over medium heat. Add the ground beef, oregano, salt and ground pepper, to taste, and cook for 15 minutes. Remove all excess fat. Add the pesto and wine and cook for another 15 minutes.
Transfer the beef ragout to a large mixing bowl. Add the eggs, 1 cup of Parmesan cheese, cooked pasta and mix well together.
Line a tartlet pan with the baked eggplant slices. Make sure the slices overlap and hang over the edge of the pan. Fill the pan evenly with the pasta mixture. Fold the eggplant slices up over the top of the pasta and top the timbale with thinner slices to cover it.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes.
Remove the timbale from the oven and let it cool. Invert the tartlet mold, spring form or pastry shell into the serving plate. Sprinkle with 1 cup of Parmesan cheese.
Slice and serve, ideally with an arugula salad and an extra-virgin olive oil-balsamic vinaigrette.