This is a recipe that I have made numerous times. It is a favorite of mine. The presentation is absolutely beautiful. It took me a while to get it to come out right, but I think I have perfected it now.
Ready to get started.
Out of the oven.
Unmolded and ready to cut into.
The finished timbale. What a beauty.
I can taste this all over again just looking at this photo. What a wonderful taste and bite. The different textures are so pleasing. The eggplant is smooth and velvety, the meat rich and flavorful, and the peas have a slight snap as you bite down on them. Another perfect autumn/fall dish.
Eggplant Timbale Adapted from Giada's Kitchen
2 medium eggplants, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1/3 cup olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound penne pasta
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 pound Italian pork sausage
1/4 cup Marsala wine
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
2 cups marinara sauce, jarred or homemade
1 1/2 cups diced smoked mozzarella cheese (about 6 ounces) I used regular mozzarella, as I couldn't find the smoked in the grocery store I was in)
3/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus 1/4 cup (Also used parmesan, no pecorino romano either)
1 cup chopped fresh basil leaves, (used about 1/4cup, thought a cupfull was too much for my liking)
Special equipment: 9-inch springform pan
Place a grill pan over medium-high heat or pre-heat a gas or charcoal grill, (I did mine on the gas grill as there are so many slices it would take forever using my small grill pan). Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the eggplant slices with 1/3 cup olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill the eggplant until tender and colored with grill marks, about 4 minutes per side. Set aside.
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. Pour off any excess fat. 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 mozzarella, 3/4 cupof the pecorino parmesan, basil, and cooked pasta. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line the springform pan with the grilled eggplant. Be sure that the slices overlap and hang over the edge of the pan. Sort of like a flower, making sure they overlap so that your filling doesn't leak out. Make sure to line the bottom well also, as this will become the top when inverted. Fill the pan with the pasta mixture, pressing down to make sure the pan is filling up evenly. Fold the eggplant slices up over the top of the pasta and add a few more slices on top to completely enclose the timbale. Bake until warmed through and the cheese has melted, about 30 minutes. Let rest on the counter for 10 minutes to set.
To serve, invert the timbale onto a serving plate and remove the springform pan. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese over the top. Slice and serve.
Serves 4 to 6.