When it’s eggplant season…and they look so gorgeous, well you just have to cook something with them! There’s Timballo, Eggplant Parmigiana, Pasta alla Norma, or even cubed up, sautéed and tossed on to a pizza. And those are only my Italian favourites. Middle Eastern eggplant preparations ring all my bells too!
Makes About 6 Servings
I find that I require 2 – 3 large eggplants, so I do 3 as I hate running out when lining the mold or if any of the slices don’t quite measure up after cooking…either breaking or whatever. The the good news is if there’s leftover cooked eggplant you can make rollatini the next day! Or a quick Parmigiana!
For the Timballo:
2 – 3 large long eggplants
EVO for brushing the eggplant slices
4 cups of either your favourite homemade tomato-basil sauce or meat sauce on the thicker side with chili flakes to taste
½ cup finely grated cheese (either Parmigiano, Pecorino or Provolone Piccante
10 oz. ziti or penne pasta, cooked quite al dente, perhaps 2-3 minutes less than stated on package
Make the Timballo:
To begin you will need an 8” springform pan, buttered & coated with fine, dry breadcrumbs; set aside.
Cut the eggplant lengthwise into 1/8” thick slices, layering in a colander, sprinkling with coarse sea salt between the layers as you go. Set the colander over a bowl & allow to drain for 45 minutes to 1 hr. Rinse well with cold water, drain & place on a large towel. Blot the eggplant slices dry. Place them onto rimmed baking sheets & brush with EVO on both sides. Heat the broiler & broil the slices approximately 4” from the element for anywhere from 2 – 4 minutes per side until golden & not too brown. As the eggplant is broiled, remove from the oven, placing the slices onto paper-towel lined baking sheets & allow to cool.
Arrange the cooked eggplant slices in the prepared springform pan so that there is a minimum of a 2” overhang to be folded over once the pasta is added, overlapping the slices as you go. I usually have to arrange eggplant slices in the bottom of the pan afterwards tucking those slices under the ones already in the pan to fill in the middle.
Preheat the oven to 400 F.
Cook the pasta until very al dente. Drain well & place in a large bowl. Add 2 ½ cups of the sauce & the cheese to the bowl. If you are using tomato basil sauce you can add some fresh basil leaves to the bowl. If you are using a meat sauce it is probably well seasoned enough with herbs & spices.
Pour the dressed pasta into the eggplant lined springform pan, folding the 2” overhang over the pasta.
Place a rimmed baking sheet on the oven shelf below where you intend to bake the timballo & place the timballo on the shelf over it. Bake for approximately 25 – 30 minutes…the eggplant will slilghtly shrink away from the sides of the springform.
Allow to cool for 15-20 minutes. Place a warmed serving plate over the top, invert onto the plate, undo the buckle on the springform, cut Timballo into wedges, serving them with the rewarmed leftover sauce on the side.