Thursday, February 5, 2009

Eggplant Timbale

Have you ever had the feeling that a recipe was written just for you? When I saw Giada make this Eggplant Timbale, I was literally drooling at the TV! I absolutely love eggplant, but I have trouble incorporating it into dishes that aren't eggplant parm. I have seen similar dishes made with bread rather than eggplant, but I didn't want to have bread and pasta in one meal.
I made a few small changes to this recipe - I used Morningstar farm crumbles rather than beef and pork, and I made my own homemade sauce rather than jarred.
This dish is a bit time consuming for a weeknight, but it's worth it!

by Giada De Laurentiis

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 store-bought marinara sauce
1 1/2 cups diced smoked mozzarella cheese (about 6 ounces)
3/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus 1/4 cup
1 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

Special equipment: 9-inch springform pan

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.
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. 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 cheeses, 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. 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 the timbale 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.

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Debbie said...

Looks wonderful. What a great dish!

Joanne said...

I've been scared to make this dish because it looks so complicated, but yours came out so good that I'm going to have to give it a try!

Linds said...

I did not see Giada make this, but your photos made me drool all the same! Looks delicious :)

Joelen said...

This looks delicious! I love eggplant and this looks like a fun way to prepare it!

That Girl said...

I just love the idea of timbales!

Colleen said...

Ooh lala - nice job! I think I would be afraid to try this!

Anonymous said...

One of my favorite ways to use eggplant is in lasagna in place of the noodles. Slice your eggplant slightly thicker than a ¼”, lightly coat with a mixture of lemon juice and olive oil. Lightly season slices with salt and pepper. You can salt and drain your eggplant before coating with lemon juice if you choose, but I find it unnecessary. Broil the eggplant slices, flipping once, until dark brown spots appear in place and around edges. Now simply use your favorite lasagna recipe, utilizing the broiled eggplant in place of cooked lasagna noodles. If your lasagna recipe is made with uncooked noodles, the liquid in the recipe will have to be reduced accordingly. This recipe is great for people how have wheat intolerances. Zucchini or yellow summer squash or a combination of all three vegetables is also delicious.