Friday, March 12, 2010

Gluten Free Timballo

For those "foodies" who have seen the film Big Night, the climax of the film shows the huge feast that culminates in the presenting of the enormous timballo (timbale). When I first saw that, I thought that dish was fictitious. "There is no way that that's a real dish!" I thought. It reminded me of a Little Rascals episode when they made a "surprise" cake.
Anyway, that dish looked so good that I always wanted to try it. While researching different recipes, I came across an interesting article about gluten-free foods and discovered some gluten-free recipes that included a gluten-free Timballo recipe. I will provide the article within the next week but I wanted to share this recipe for those who were interested or simply a pasta lover.

Italian Timballo
Yield: 24 (12oz.) portions
Preparation time: 20-30 minutes + 1.5 hours unattended baking time
Shelf-life: 4 days under refrigeration.

  • Oil to grease molds
  • 2lbs. 2oz. ground beef
  • 1.5lbs. ground veal
  • 6 slices stale spelt or other gluten free bread, crust removed & torn into pieces (about a half loaf)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 6 large eggs, lightly beaten plus 12 hard-boiled eggs, sliced
  • 3/4 cup minced flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
  • 2.5lbs. zucchini, thinly sliced
  • 2.25 cups grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 2lbs. gluten-free penne or ziti (Doris has Sam Mills gluten-free pasta)
  • 6 large sheets fresh gluten-free pasta
  • 6 cups fresh mozzrella
  • 1 large #10 can (approx 84 oz.) San Marzano peeled tomatoes (undrained & finely chopped) (Doris has Cento Brand Certified San Marzano Tomatoes in a #10 can)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Generously oil a 10 quart round mold or 3 (3.5 qt.) molds. (11.5 inch metal bowls work well).
  2. In a large bowl, combine the meats. In a separate bowl, add the bread to the milk and let it soften (about 5 minutes), then squeeze and add it along with uncooked eggs, parsley, basil, zucchini & Parmigiano to the meat and mix gently. Season generously with salt & pepper.
  3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add penne and cook until al dente; drain and gently stir into the meat mixture.
  4. If the fresh pasta sheets are not pliant, bring another pot of salted water to a boil and cook briefly. Drain & line the oiled mold(s) with the fresh pasta sheets. (If necessary, you can cut the sheets in pieces & patch them together in the mold and on top.) Add about a fourth of each into the pan: the meat mixture, the hard boiled eggs, the mozzarella & the tomatoes. (Repeat with 3 more layers, patting down the mixture as you work.)
  5. Lay remaining pasta over the filling, making sure it is covered, press the edges around the pan, cover with aluminum foil and bake for 1.5 hours. Uncover & continue to cook until the top is lightly colored (about 15 minutes). Test the meat for doneness by inserting an instant-read thermometer into the center. It should read 160 degrees. If not, recover & cook for about 10-15 minutes more. Remove, run a knife along the edges, cover with a large platter, and let stand for at least 15 minutes before unmolding & cutting into wegdes & serving.
Nutritional Data: (per 12oz. portion)
  • Calories: 420
  • Cholesterol: 160mg
  • Sodium: 610mg
  • Fat: 15g
  • Dietary Fibre: 4g
If gluten free pasta sheets are hard to find, you can press the penne to almost mushing them along the mold.
(For a spicier version, use hot Italian sausage sauteed in olive oil)
(source: Specialty Food Magazine, March 2010)


  1. FYI, spelt is not gluten-free. Tinkyada makes a great GF sheet pasta that you can't over-cook, and DeBoles makes a rice lasagna that's excellent.

  2. Thanks for the clatification. However there are gluten free spelt bread recipes that use rice flour like this one:'s%20rice%20and%20spelt%20flour%20bread%20(gluten%20free). But yes, basic spelt bread is not gluten free, but substitutions are possible like the ones you mentioned. That's the best part of recipes, you can tweak them and make them your own. Thank you for sharing!

  3. Carbs and protein values, please?

  4. I found some other recipes that provide nutrirional information. I hope these help. Grazie!