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January 17, 2014

Baked pasta, Palermo-style

A meal for the masses, or a brown-bag tote

An extravagant dish, Timballo di Anelletti alla Palermitano is part of the culinary tradition of Palermo, the capital of Sicily, Italy.

For the Palermitani, pasta is not a food to be enjoyed occasionally, it is a staple food that is a direct line to eating well to live.

This dish uses anelletti, a typical Sicilian pasta form — think Spaghetti-Os for imaging the shape.

Originally the timballo was an elaborate concoction first introduced by the Arab emirs in the 9th century. The ingredients varied all over the island but it became a dish that was totable for the Sicilians who took it on picnics.

The classic ingredients are pasta, meat and vegetables. Many versions exist; some use eggplant instead of peas or zucchini. More elaborate concoctions also include chunks of salame, hard-boiled eggs and primosale cheese. This recipe comes from Mary Ann Esposito of Durham, N.H., host of PBS’ “Ciao Italia,” television’s longest running cooking show.

This is a dish to feed the masses, at least 12, so it is a good one for a party or a buffet dinner and can be made a day ahead and reheated.

Timballo di Anelletti alla Palermitano

Serves 12

Ingredients

1/2 cup bread crumbs,

1 onion

1 carrot

2 stalks celery

4 sprigs parsley

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus some for oiling baking dish

1/2 pound ground pork

1/2 pound ground beef

1/2 cup white wine

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

2 bay leaves

5 tablespoons tomato paste diluted in 1/4 cup water

11/2 cups peas

Salt and pepper to taste

1 cup grated Pecorino or Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

2 tablespoons butter, cut into bits

Cream Sauce

3 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons flour

3 cups milk

Grinding black pepper

Grinding nutmeg

1 pound anelletti (small ring shaped pasta. I use Tomasello brand)

Directions:

1. Oil an 111/ 2 by 2 inch deep casserole dish and coat with 1/2 cup toasted bread crumbs. Set aside. (I used my large blue Le Creuset).

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