Thursday, April 7, 2011

Broccoli and Pasta Timbale for Weekend Herb Blogging

Weekend Herb Blogging #278 is happening here this week. I am delighted to once again be the guest host for this weekly roundup of blog posts about plant-centric dishes. To celebrate my hosting duties I made a cake. A pasta and broccoli cake. Of sorts.

At least I felt like sticking a birthday candle into my new creation, which looked remarkably like a yellow cake with a broccoli filling. In reality my pasta and broccoli cake was a timbale, a not too tricky new cooking technique, though its presentation makes it look like a hard thing to accomplish. Basically you make a layered pasta dish in a buttered baking dish and then unmold it after a short cooling period.

My husband kept kidding me about trying to make the Timpano from the great foodie movie "Big Night", in which Stanley Tucci and Tony Shalhoub are Italian brothers fighting over the right way to run their Italian restaurant in 1950s Maryland. Their restaurant features authentic fare, but is no match for the spaghetti and meatballs drowned in red sauce type menu at the much more popular Italianesque restaurant down the block. They try to make one fantastic meal at a party they throw in honor of jazz singer Louis Prima, whom they think is going to drop by and thus make their reputation soar.

A huge Timpano is the star of the menu, a washtub sized layered pasta dish baked inside a pastry crust, but my creation was but a baby sibling to that pasta edifice. (Joelen of What's Cooking Chicago has pictures of the real deal over at her tasty blog).

The inspiration for this deal come from Bert Greene's excellent paean to vegetables, Greene on Greens (NY: Workman Publishing, 1984). Of course, I adapted Bert's recipe to make it gluten-free and lightened the original up a bit by substituting Greek yogurt for ricotta. I twiddled with the seasonings, and By Gum, this timbale turned out terrific! Dan's Timpano mockery soon faded into snorfling sounds as he sliced himself a second helping. And let me tell you that he brought some delicious and rather beautiful leftovers of Broccoli and Pasta Cake, I mean, Timbale, into work today. Snorfle, snorfle.

Here's my adapted recipe for Broccoli and Pasta Timbale, an impressive looking and tasty gluten-free, vegetarian casserole that would be a great dish for entertaining:

Broccoli and Pasta Timbale

1-1/2 lbs. broccoli (about four crowns)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced

5 Tbsp. butter (plus a couple more Tbsps. for buttering baking dish)
4 Tbsp. white or brown rice flour
1/2 cup shredded smoked gouda
1 cup hot vegetable stock
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg (freshly grated nutmeg really perfumes this dish)

1 lb. gluten-free pasta (I used Pasta d'oro corn pasta in the cute lasagna corte shape, but any small elbow, fusilli or penne will do)

1 cup Greek yogurt
Salt and pepper to taste

Butter a 2 quart souffle or baking dish with high sides that can be easily upturned and unmolded. Set aside.

Cut up broccoli by trimming off florets and then dicing stems to 1/2 inch dice.

Heat olive oil in large saucepan. Add garlic when sizzling and stir 1 minute. Add in broccoli and cook, stirring often, until broccoli is crisp-tender and still a bit bright green. Remove from heat.

Cook pasta in salted water until al dente and drain.

Melt butter in a large saucepan. Add flour and whisk constantly for 2 minutes. Beat in hot vegetable stock and whisk until smooth. Add shredded smoked Gouda and stir until melted. Add in heavy cream and nutmeg and heat just to boiling point. Remove from heat and seat with salt and pepper.

Toss pasta with cheese sauce, Greek yogurt and mix thoroughly.

Put half of pasta in buttered baking dish. Press down firmly. Layer in broccoli. Press again and then add remaining pasta layer, pressing down firmly into dish.

Bake at 400 degrees F for 25 minutes or until top is lightly browned.

Remove your timbale from the oven and let cool for 8-10 minutes. Run a butter knife around the edges to loosen it and then cover top with a plate. Slowly invert and let gravity draw the timbale out of the baking dish onto the plate.

Makes 6-8 servings. I liked it plain, but Dan enjoyed his timbale with a bit of marinara "ganache".

This is my contribution to Weekend Herb Blogging this week. If you are not familiar with this popular blog event run by Haalo of Cook Almost Anything, please check out the rules below. If you have a delicious post that you would like to share this week, send me your entry by
this Sunday, April 10, 4 pm Eastern Standard Time. I'll have the roundup posted the next day.

1. Entries to Weekend Herb Blogging must be posts written specifically for Weekend Herb Blogging. This means they cannot be cross-posted in other events. Photos used in the posts however can be submitted to photo events like DMBLGIT.

2. Weekend Herb Blogging entries should have the goal of helping people learn about cooking with herbs or plant ingredients.

Only two types of entries will be accepted:
* Recipe posts where a herb or plant ingredient is one of the primary ingredients in the recipe
* Informative posts that spotlight one herb or plant ingredient, particularly including information about how they are used in cooking.
Naturally, posts can be a combination of both these criteria.

3. Posts must contain the phrase Weekend Herb Blogging with a link to The Crispy Cook and to this site.

4. In your email please include the following information:

Your Name
Your Blog Name/URL
Your Post URL
Your Location
Attach a photo (250 pix wide or less)


Simplyfood said...

Looks delicious.

Arlene Delloro said...

I love Stanley Tucci and haven't seen Big Night in years (time to rent it). This timbale looks just wonderful!

brii said...

Rachel, this post is funny and the Timballo looks delicious!!
it's perfect for recycling left-over pasta.
never heard about Timpano before, and I was amazed by the size of Joelen's!

Simona said...

I had started quoting from the Big Night for my post on frittata, then changed my mind: I wish I hadn't, seen as you also refer to that great movie. A great-looking timballo you have there!

Claudia said...

You have inspired me Rachel with your beautiful Timbale. My old Italian cookbook has a number of timbale recipes and now I want to give this dish a try.

What's Cookin Chicago said...

Your timbale came out gorgeous! Thank you for linking to my timpano. It was quite a dish to prepare however, I think I'll try my hand at a timbale soon, thanks to your post!

catering Fort Lauderdale said...

Depending on the sauce and topping that you prefer, cooking pasta does not have to be dull because of the wide array of flavors and themes that you can think of.