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Timpana recipe

Timpana recipe

  • Recipes
  • Ingredients
  • Meat and poultry
  • Beef
  • Beef pasta

Layers of pasta with enriched Bolognese sauce, encased in pastry. Served mainly as a starter with Christmas or Easter dinner in Malta, it seems to have recently gone out of fashion and been replaced with lasagna.

Malta Island, Malta

32 people made this

IngredientsMakes: 15

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 250g beef mince
  • 250g pork mince
  • tomato paste
  • 2 (400g) tins chopped tomatoes
  • 250ml beef stock
  • 500g dried penne pasta
  • 4 slices bacon, finely chopped
  • 250g chicken livers, chopped
  • 3 eggs, lightly whisked
  • 75g finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 250g ricotta cheese
  • 20ml milk
  • 3 hard boiled eggs, chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 extra egg, lightly whisked
  • 3 (25x25 cm) sheets frozen ready-rolled short crust pastry, just thawed
  • salad leaves

MethodPrep:1hr5min ›Cook:1hr20min ›Extra time:15min cooling › Ready in:2hr40min

  1. Heat half the oil in a large frying pan over high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until soft.
  2. Add the beef and pork mince and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon to break up any lumps, for 5 minutes or until mince changes colour.
  3. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 1 minute or until heated through. Add the tomatoes and stock, and bring to the boil.
  4. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes or until sauce thickens. Remove from heat and set aside for 30 minutes to cool.
  5. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large saucepan of salted boiling water following packet directions or until al dente. Drain well. Set aside to cool.
  6. Heat a large non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until crisp. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to a plate lined with kitchen paper.
  7. Add the remaining oil to the pan. Add half the chicken livers and cook for 2 minutes each side or until golden. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towel. Repeat with remaining chicken livers.
  8. Preheat the oven to 180 C / Gas 4.
  9. Combine the mince mixture, pasta, the 3 eggs and Parmesan in a large bowl. Mash the ricotta in the milk and add to the mixture.
  10. Add the bacon and hard-boiled eggs and gently fold until just combined. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
  11. Line the base and side of a round 23cm (base measurement) cake pan with 2 of the pastry sheets. Trim excess pastry.
  12. Spoon half the pasta mixture over the pastry base. Top with chicken livers. Spoon the remaining pasta mixture over the chicken livers and smooth the surface.
  13. Top with the remaining pastry and lightly press the edges to seal. Brush with the extra egg.
  14. Bake in preheated oven, covering with foil if pastry browns too quickly, for 1 hour or until golden brown.
  15. Turn timpana onto a baking tray and bake for a further 15 minutes or until golden.
  16. Remove from oven. Set aside for 20 minutes to cool slightly. Cut into wedges and serve with mixed salad leaves, if desired.


Served mainly as a starter with Christmas or Easter dinner in Malta. Recently gone out of fashion and replaced with lasagna.

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Timpana recipe - Recipes

1/2 aubergine (eggplant)
1 or 2 small onions
1lb minced meat (mix of pork and beef if possible)
1 sml tin tomato paste (6oz)
1 1/2 lbs uncut macaroni (or Rigatoni 27)
3 eggs
1/4 lb Romano cheese
3/4 lb ricotta
1 box pepperidge farm frozen puff pastry sheets

Peel aubergine and cut up into small pieces. Soak in water diluted with a little vinegar. Fry chopped onions in a saucepan together with aubergine. When these are cooked (onions will be tramsparent), add minced meat and brown for a couple of minutes. Dissolve the tomato paste in 1 cup of hot water (or stock) and add to the contents of the pan. Add salt and pepper to taste. Let simmer for at least 20 minutes.

Boil the macaroni in plenty of salted water until barely tender. Pour one cup of cold water into the pan as soon as the macaroni is done. It is vital that the macaroni remain pretty stiff so that it will retain its shape. Beat the eggs seperately and grate cheese for use when required.

Prepare a deep casserole (28x18x4cm Pyrex dish) by greasing (margarine or lard) it - line the bottom and sides with puff pastry.

Next, mix the meat sauce with the ricotta. Place the first layer of macaroni on the bottom of the casserole, followed by a layer of the meat sauce. Sprinkle with grated cheese. Repeat the procedure, finishing with a layer of meat and ricotta filling. Add the well beated eggs, spreading all over the casserole, and allowing the beaten eggs to seep through the layers. Sprinkle grated cheese on top and cover with a layer of puff pastry. Press the edges to seal the dish. With a fork, pierce the dough. If desired brush the top with a beaten egg.

Preheat the oven to 350-375F. Bake for about one hour. If covered in pastry it should turn a golden-brown. If not covered in pastry you might want to cover the casserole with foil for the first half hour so that the top does not get too crisp.

Timpana slices better if it is allowed to stand for about half an hour after being taken out of the oven. The ideal slice has neat see-through circles of macaroni on both sides. This can be achieved by fearlessly undercooking the macaroni.


Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large frying pan over high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until soft. Add the beef and pork and cook, stirering with a wooden spoon to breeak up any lumps, for 5 minutes or until the ground meat turns color.

Step 2

Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 1 minute or until heated through Add the tomatoes and stock, and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes or until the sauce thickens. Remove from heat and set aside for 30 minutes to cool.

Step 3

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large saucepan of salted boiling water following the package directions, usually 10 minutes. Drain well. Set aside to cool.

Step 4

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the bacon. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until crisp. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to a plate lined with paper towels. Add the remaining oil to the pan. Add half the eggplant and cook for 2 minutes each side or until golden. Transfer to a plate lined with peper towels. Repeat with the remaining eggplants.

Step 5

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine the ground meat mixture, pasta, egg, and parmesan in a large bowl. Add the bacon and the hard boiled eggs. Gently fold until just combined. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Step 6

Line the base and sides of a 9 inch cake pan with w of the pastry sheets. Trim the excess pastry. Spoon half of the pasta mixture over the pastry base. Top with eggplant. Spoon the remaining pasta mixture over the eggplant and smooth the surface. Top with the remaining pastry and lightly press the edges to seal. Brush with the extra egg.

Step 7

Bake in the preheated oven, covering with foil if the pastry browns too quickly, for 1 hour or until golden brown.

Step 8

Turn the Timpana onto a baking tray and bake for a further 15 minutes or until golden. Remove from the oven. Set aside for 20 minutes to cool slightly, Cut into wedges and serve with mixed salad leaves. If desired, also add barbecue sauce.

Timpano Di Maccheroni (The Mythic Pasta Dome)

Description:Notes from Mario Batali: &quotanyone who has seen Stanley Tucci's cinematic masterpiece, Big Night, will remember Primo's rendition of this classic, which takes its name from a large drum. My version differs from that one in many ways, but like it, it makes for a dramatic presentation. Surprisingly, it is not nearly as tricky to prepare as it looks. Except for the rigatoni, you can prepare the whole thing the day before just blanch the pasta and assemble the dish in the afternoon before your guests arrive. It can then rest in the refrigerator for several hours before the final cooking. You will need a 4 quart metal mixing bowl for the final assembly. from s'kat: It was two years before I finally found an occasion I could whip this out for. I did all of my prep work in the weeks preceding the recipe, freezing the components as I went along. The day of the assembly, I only had to make the besciamella sauce, which took mere minutes. I also cheated, in that I! didn't make fresh pasta, I bought some from a local Italian deli. Although this didn't come out exactly perfectly, I'm posting it in the hopes that someone else who may want to make this can help me figure out the proper baking times. When I pulled it out, it wasn't warm enough in the middle. I kept it going for at least another 30 minutes, even turning up the temperature towards the end. Additionally, when I went to cut my first wedge and pull it out, the pasta collapsed when free of the dome, instead of sticking together. It still tasted incredible, and there were audible gasps when I hauled this sucker out to the dining room. It is my intention to make it at least once a year, from now on. Have fun!

Timpana – It’s Not For the Faint Hearted!

Most people would shrink back from such a rich, heavy dish as it’s basically carbs wrapped in more carbs – but do give it a go!


  • 1 Large Onion, Diced
  • 3 Cloves Of Garlic, Minced
  • 2 Fresh Bay Leaves
  • Olive Oil
  • 500g (2 1/4 Cups) Rindless Bacon, Finely Minced
  • 500g (2 1/4 Cups) Organic Minced Beef
  • 400g (1 3/4 Cups Or 14oz) Tin Of Diced Italian Tomatoes
  • 125ml (1/2 Cups) Beef Or Chicken Stock
  • 3 Tbsp Of Tomato Paste
  • Grated Fresh Nutmeg
  • Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper
  • 500g (17 1/2 Oz) Macaroni
  • 4 Organic Eggs (1 Egg To Glaze Pastry)
  • 6 Tbsp Of Grated Grano Padano
  • 2 X 375g (13 Oz Each) Packets Of Butter Puff Pastry


1. Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7

2. Fry the onion, garlic and bay leaf in some olive oil until soft. Add the minced bacon and beef and cook for 15 minutes.

Add the diced tin tomatoes, beef stock and tomato paste and cook for a further few minutes. Grate in some nutmeg, season to taste and gently simmer for a further 30 minutes

3. Meanwhile, cook macaroni in a large pot of salted boiling water according to the instructions on the packet.

When the pasta is al dente, drain and mix the meat sauce into the macaroni. Add three eggs and the grated grano padano. Mix well and then allow to cool.

4. Lightly oil a 40x26cm baking dish and then roll out half the puff pastry to fit the baking dish. Spoon the macaroni and meat sauce into the baking dish. Cover with the remaining puff pastry and fold the edges. Glaze the top and edges with beaten egg.

5. Bake at to 220C/425F/Gas 7 for 15 minutes and then reduce the oven to 180C/350F/Gas4 and bake for a further 30 minutes.

Once cooked, allow the timpana to stand for 10 minutes before serving as this allows for the timpana to slice neatly.

Celebrating with Timpano!

It’s Timpano time again! If you’re a regular reader of my blog you know I previously featured Timpano a few times already in the course of my almost seven years here on Proud Italian Cook. I can’t help it, it’s such a celebratory meal, like making homemade ravioli.

I don’t make it that often but when I do it’s for a celebration or special occasion.

Many years ago I watched the movie Big Night, which by the way I think is one of the best “foodie” movies ever made, two brothers own a restaurant that’s not doing so well so they try and impress there guests by making a Timpano.

Stanley Tucci is in the movie and the actual Timpano recipe comes from his own personal family. To me the highlight of the movie was the Timpano scene. It will be forever embedded in my mind, here’s a You Tube clip, and the minute I saw it I knew I would be making this spectacular meal.

Making a timpano is a big event but it actually consists of very common ingredients, nothing much out of the ordinary, but the presentation is extraordinary and definitely celebration worthy!

When making Timpano you’ll find that it’s all about using the correct pan which so happens to be made of enamelware, you have to have the right size and shaped pan to hold three pounds of pasta, provolone, eggs, mini meatballs, Genoa salami, sauce and grated cheese and it has to be deep enough so you can make several layers before it gets nicely wrapped into the dough and when you finely un-mold it, there’s a nice dome like shape to it, here’s what I use. This recipe feeds at least 16 people!

I’m not going to kid you, it’s a labor of love, but isn’t that what we all do for special occasions, we go all out. What I really like about making Timpano is that everything can be prepped way ahead of time. I make all my sauce and mini meatballs a week before and stick them in the freezer until the day before, then a couple of days before the party I boil and peel my hard boiled eggs, dice up the provolone and Genoa salami, and make sure I have plenty of romano cheese grated.

Over the years I’ve adapted the recipe a little, I don’t make the heavy ragu that the original recipe calls for, I personally don’t think you need it, there’s so much meat that goes into the layers anyway, to me a nice light marinara made with olive oil, fresh basil, garlic and good San Marzano tomatoes is just right, of course I always make plenty of extra sauce because you’ll want to spoon some on each piece.

The recipe gives you the exact amounts of cheese, salami and meatballs you should use but I always throw in extra, the only thing I do exact is the hardboiled egg amount. I will post the link to the original recipe at the end of this post.

I can’t tell you how much I love this dough, it comes out perfect every time. I make it the night before, wrap it good in plastic wrap then refrigerate it, just bring it to room temperature before you start to roll it. Be patient when rolling, let it rest, then roll, it needs to be thin, you should be able to see the counter coming through the dough.

The dough circle needs to be big enough to drape the bowl like in the photo above because once you start adding all the ingredients the sides will rise up a bit, plus you need enough to be able to cover and wrap all the ingredients inside.

Then all the layering begins! See the bottom picture of the pan? look at the edge, you can see the pan design coming through, that’s how thin your dough has to be otherwise your Timpano will be too heavy and crusty and you don’t want that!

Layered up to the top, almost done with the filling!

Add the last layer of sauce and a drizzle of beaten eggs all over the top to seal everything in.

Wrap it, trim it, and stick it in the oven!

My advice is to read, read, read the recipe, I even printed it out and highlighted the important steps so I wouldn’t forget, at one point you have to take it out of the oven and put foil over the top and then back in, if you forget this step with the foil it can ruin the whole thing, my poor friend did that once, so please use a timer and pay attention when it dings.

Every oven is different but the Timpano should be golden brown with an internal temperature of 120 degrees.

When you un-mold it you can’t just cut into it, a very important step is to let it rest, I repeat, let it rest! If you don’t you’ll have a gloppy mess, and that would be so sad after all that work. Go pour some drinks and mingle with your guests, give it about an hour, believe me it will still be hot.

Then you’ll be able to cut it into sharp clean wedges for everyone, see how nice and thin that dough is?

You might wonder what to serve with Timpano, well since it’s summertime I decided to make a platter of grilled veggies and a nice big Italian salad, that’s it, that’s all you’ll need, trust me.

Cut your wedges which are nicely held together and spoon warm marinara on top, you’re ready to dig in!

If you’re lucky enough there might be a piece leftover for the next day…

We had a lot to celebrate, with a ton of hard work and endurance my daughter received her yoga teacher training certificate, it was also my sons birthday, and my niece and a good family friend just completed a triathlon. We’re very proud of them all, they work extremely hard but they sure know how to party!

Here is a link to the original recipe, within that recipe you’ll find another link to the Family Tucci ragu.

How to Make Timpano, the Italian Grandmother Way

Timpano . A huge, round "drum" of pasta, filled with even more pasta, meatballs, sausage, pork shank, and hard-boiled eggs. See: labor of love. This Italian dish, which is neither quick nor easy, has been featured in movies and on Sunday dinner tables alike, and now it's coming to New York City's Del Posto restaurant.

Like the best timpani , the one featured in Del Posto's video above comes courtesy of nonna . Chef di cucina Matt Abdoo spent hours with his 90-year-old grandmother, Valerie Mancuso, to learn how to execute her timpano so that he can (try to) serve the same thing at the restaurant. We see Abdoo sieving tomatoes and rolling meatballs as visions of Mancuso, likely wagging her finger, dance in his head. It's a testament to Italian food as a cuisine with deep roots and lots of soul, even at restaurants as polished and prestigious as Del Posto. Watch and prepare yourself to say "awwwwwwww."

Del Posto's timpano is now available upon request, and is $100 for four portions.

What is traditional Maltese Timpana?

The Timpana definition is summed up as pasta, tomato sauce, meat and cheese encased in pastry. A pasta pie! I couldn’t think of anything our family would enjoy more and so I set about making my own recipe.

In the end I decided that my typical easy bolognese sauce would be perfect for this. You can make the bolognese however you like but ours usually involves beef mince, beef stock, tomato purée or tomato paste, tinned chopped tomatoes and a few vegetables. Traditionally Timpana is made with pork mince and chicken livers but I knew our family would prefer our own classic flavours!

I chose Rigatoni pasta as I thought it would be slightly less filling than a more dense pasta considering the whole thing would be wrapped in pastry. I thought puff pastry would give a great finish and so I set about creating my pie.

You could make a Maltese baked macaroni recipe too by switching the Rigatoni for macaroni and filling the pie crust with the macaroni and tomato sauce mix.

Here’s our Maltese Timpana Recipe:


  • 4 portions of homemade bolognese sauce
  • 2 sheets of ready made puff pastry
  • 500g rigatoni – or any other pasta you feel like
  • 50g grated cheddar
  • Cook pasta as per packet instructions, drain and cool with cold water
  • Heat the bolognese sauce in a large pan over a medium heat until warmed through and mix with the pasta
  • Preheat oven to 180C/ Line a round baking dish with puff pastry
  • Pour the pasta mixture into the puff pastry case and top with the cheese
  • Create a lid from the remaining pastry. Either make slits in the lid with a knife or create a lattice effect to let air through
  • Oven with foil and bake in the oven for an hour or until browned and cooked through. You can take the foil off for the last ten minutes if you’d like a browner bake. Serve on it’s own or with mixed salad leaves.

If you’d like to print or pin the Maltese Timpana Recipe for later you can do so below. Enjoy!

In continental European countries, such as Germany, France and Belgium, the traditional Christmas log (or Buche de Nöel) is made out of an Italian sponge cake, coated in chocolate. The Maltese version, however, consists of crushed biscuits, dried cherries, nuts and liqueur, mixed together in condensed milk, then rolled in the shape of a log and coated in melted chocolate. It is refrigerated overnight, and served in round slices at the end of Christmas lunch.

Most Maltese used to fast by denying themselves meat on Wednesdays and Fridays. They also avoided sweets. The kwareżimal (derived from quaresima for the forty days of Lent) is synonymous with the Lenten season. Although recipes tend to vary, it is traditionally prepared with almonds, honey and spices, containing neither fat nor eggs. As a biscuit, the kwareżimal is quite large oblong shape, approximately 15cm by 5cm wide and 2cm thick.

Even though Lenten rules are no longer insisted upon, the kwareżimal is still in demand, especially around Lent and Easter periods, as tradition dictates. These days, they are served hot, and should be enjoyed with unsalted pistachio nuts or chopped roasted almonds on top, or a thread of local honey.

Timpana recipe - Recipes

After a long discussion in the kitchen with my (Maltese!) boyfriend, I have to accept that my recipe is not a traditional Maltese timpana – but it tastes just as good, even my man agreed with that!

Timpana is a Mediterranean dish which is very popular in Malta and also in Italy. It’s penne or macaroni pasta mixed with Bolognese sauce baked in a pastry shell – basically a pasta pie. My version, however, left out the meat sauce. I cooked a concentrated red sauce with fresh tomatoes and lots of basil instead and sautéed zucchini and aubergine slices until golden and juicy. So, here’s the blatant difference, I piled the tomato basil pasta with layers of the sliced vegetables and parmesan in a buttery pastry shell, which, to me, justifies calling this dish Timpana. But sometimes opinions about food differ, especially when it comes to tradition recipes.

Obviously I ate my first Timpana in Malta, bought from one of the tiny bakeries you find at almost ever street corner in the towns and villages. They sell this pasta dish cut into large squares along trays full of buttery Pastizzi and rich ricotta filled Qassata. It’s a street food lunch classic on the island. When I ate a piece of this hearty dish for first time, I didn’t quite understand the concept of wrapping pasta in crisp short crust. But after years of enjoying at least 1 or 2 pasta pies during my stay in the South I got used to this tradition bite by bite. It just makes you feel good, it’s delicious comfort food that combines the best of a pie with lighter comfort of fruity penne. I must admit that I prefer the addition of vegetables, the Bolognese sauce makes it a bit too rich and heavy for my taste. But I won’t argue about that ever again, especially not with a Maltese person!

Timpana – Maltese Pasta Pie with Zucchini and Aubergine

For a 20 1/2cm / 8″ pie (a loose bottom spring form works best) you need

penne pasta 250g / 9oz
medium sized tomatoes, chopped, 6 (about 650g / 1 1/2 pounds)
fresh garlic (preferably spring garlic) 1 clove
olive oil
tomato pasta (Kunserva) 1 tablespoon
Balsamico vinegar 1 tablespoon
fresh basil, thinly sliced, about 12 large leaves
medium sized zucchini, cut into 1/2cm / 1/4″ slices, 2 (about 380g / 13 1/2oz)
medium sized aubergine, cut into 1/2cm / 1/4″ slices, 1 (about 270g / 9 1/2oz)
parmesan, freshly grated, 5 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon for the topping

Cook the pasta in salted water until al dente, they should have bite. Let the penne cool.

On a chopping board, rub and press the chopped garlic under the blade of a large knife with 1/4 teaspoon of salt until you have a smooth paste. Heat a splash of olive oil in a large pan, add the garlic paste, chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, vinegar, salt and pepper and cook on medium-high heat for about 10 minutes until thick. Stir in the basil and season to taste, make sure that the basil comes through quite strong. Let the sauce cool completely before you mix it with the cooked pasta.

In a heavy pan, heat a splash of olive oil and sauté the sliced zucchini on medium-high heat for 1-2 minutes on each side until golden brown. Cook them in batches, they should be spread out in the pan and not on top of each other. Season with salt and pepper and set them aside to cool. Heat a generous splash of olive oil and sauté the sliced aubergine in the same pan. They will need a little more oil (you’ll have to add some in between batches) and they will also need to cook a bit longer, they should be golden brown, soft and juicy. Season to taste and set them aside to cool.

plain flour 300g / 2 1/3 cups / 10 1/2oz
salt 1 teaspoon
butter, cold, 150g / 1 1/4 sticks / 5 1/4 ounces
egg yolks 2
cold water 2 tablespoons

For the glaze
organic egg yolk 1
milk 1 tablespoon
a pinch of salt

Combine the flour with the salt. Cut the butter into the flour with a knife until there are just little pieces left. Continue with your fingers and quickly rub the butter into the flour. Add the eggs and water and continue mixing with the hooks of your mixer until you have a crumbly mixture. Form 2 discs, dividing them roughly 2:1, wrap in cling film and put in the freezer for 10 minutes.

Set the oven to 200°C / 390°F (top/ bottom heat).

Whisk the egg yolk, milk and salt for the glaze.

Take the dough out of the freezer and roll out both discs between cling film, the bigger piece (about 32cm / 12 1/2″) for the bottom and the smaller one as the lid for the pie.

Line the bottom and sides of the spring form pan. Spread 1/3 of the pasta mixed with the tomato sauce on top of the pastry, sprinkle with 1/3 of the parmesan and cover with a layer of aubergine (let the slices overlap a little). Continue with a second layer of pasta (1/3), sprinkle with parmesan (1/3) and cover with the zucchini. Finish with the remaining pasta, cheese and vegetables (if there are some left). Close with the smaller pastry lid and gently push the rim with your fingers to seal the pie. B rush the top with the egg glaze and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of the cheese.

Bake the pie for 15 minutes before you turn the heat down to 175°C / 350°F and bake for another 50 minutes or until the pie is golden and baked through. Let the pie cool for at least 15 minutes before you cut it into pieces.