Timpano. Somehow I believe this became popular in America via the 1996 movie “Big Night.” In Italy, they usually call timpano “timballo” but like all things in Italy the name, contents and “look” of the baked pasta dish vary by region and the la cucina italiana you are being served in.
While, researching this dish, I did not come up with any definitive history so I feel very lucky that I asked about this dish last year when I was visiting family in Italy. Although it is not a staple to the area of Italy I am most familiar with, I did learn that it is something that other regions usually make only once or twice a year, usually part of a holiday menu or special occasion. Nearly every region of Italy includes some kind of savory pie in their cuisine; from Torta Pasqualina in Emilia-Romagna, to Capelli d’Angeli al Forno in Tuscany, to Timballo di Maccheroni in Abruzzi and Calabria.
So what is this dish? It is a rice, pasta or pastry dough crust that is molded into a shape—can be any shape, though most prefer a dome. Inside is usually a few different recipes that are combined together, for example, ragu, meatballs (but many types of meats are used), peas and cheese. The recipe itself has many steps (those few different recipes we talked about above) that merge into one amazing dish. Make sure to look at this week’s Sunday Pasta to get a glimpse of our version. It may take long to prepare but it is worth every minute. You will see… a presto.
Donna Picciocchi, Editor