Timpano: Big Night, Big Dreams


Love is a catalyst.
I’ve had in mind to make this dish for 19 years.  It has always been that dish that I would one day make when the time was right.  I needed the special occasion, the right time, the perfect recipe…  I put it off so many times that it became an imposing presence, but one that I knew I would one day make — every time I opened an italian cookbook I scanned the index for Timpano.
Love is a catalyst.
SHE came into my life and everything…  No, wait.  SHE burst into my life and everything…  Still no.
At some point I realized that SHE is, and would always be, my everything.  Yes.
Love is a catalyst.
Life began to flow and our time together in the kitchen wasn’t just in the moment, it reached way back in memory and reconciliation and far forward in anticipation and dreams.  But it is also in the moment and the moment is full of joy.
This is our first post, though it isn’t our first project.  We have a world of experience together in so many ways and our adventures together, recorded like this, are perfectly set in motion with this timpano.
All my adult life I wanted to make this dish when the time and place were right.  Love is the catalyst that set my whole world right at just the right time and brought this long held dream into action and being.  The beauty of this meal is not the recipe or food — it is in the calibration of love and partnership, the click of the world being set perfectly in place, and the harmony of our space together that makes everything so delicious.

When we decided it would be Timpano for Thanksgiving, preparation began on Monday. She got to work on the homemade meatballs, sausage, Sunday sauce and hard-boiled eggs. Having that enormous task done days ahead of time would really cut prep time, which is exactly what we needed on Thanksgiving with so many other dishes going. We joked that the turkey would be the “backup” just in case the timpano was a flop. It was everything but!

We used an enamel bowl much like this one, but you can also use any deep saucepan with straight sides. The shape doesn’t seem to matter as much as the depth. We liked the weightlessness of this bowl, since the timpano itself gets pretty hefty as you build it.

The Innards

  • Meatballs (recipe here)
  • Italian sausage (we used sweet to appeal to the Littles)
  • Sunday sauce (recipe here)
  • 1 lb of rigatoni (cooked and mixed with sauce)
  • Ricotta mixture:
  • 1 lb of whole milk ricotta
  • 1 egg
  • Baby spinach to taste (sauteed with garlic and oil, then and mixed into the ricotta)
  • Hard boiled eggs (about 6)
  • Pepperoni
  • Shredded mozzarella




The Pasta

  • 2 cups flour
  • 3 eggs + 1 yolk
  • 2 TB olive oil

Beat the eggs and the oil together in a small bowl. In a large bowl, add the flour. Add the egg mixture to the flour and mix with a fork until clumped. Make a ball of dough with your hands. On a floured working surface, start kneading your dough until it gets dense and shiny. It should not be sticky, if it is, add more flour.

Atlas Pasta Crank:
We love this one!

Make a work surface, complete with pasta crank, bowl of flour for sprinkling, and kitchen towels for layering. It’s good to do this while the dough is resting. After resting, cut the dough into fourths. Take one piece and wrap the rest so it doesn’t dry out.
Pass the dough quarter through the pasta crank on the widest setting (#5). Pass thru once, and fold into thirds.
Turn, and pass through again. Do this about 8x, continuously folding and turning the dough.
Turn the crank down 2 notches, to setting #3. Pass through once more.
Turn pasta crank to setting #1, thinnest setting. Pass through once more.
You’ll have, long, thin sheets. Keep them nicely floured, and continue with the rest of the dough. Layer the strips between kitchen towels, being careful not to let any pasta touch each other. The dough will get drier and easy to work with.

The Assembly
Grease the bowl with lotsa butter. Line your bowl with the pasta sheets (see Raven’s note at the end of this post) with enough overlap to cover any leaks. Start layering! The order of things:

  • Rigatoni
  • Meatballs/Sausage
  • Ricotta/spinach
  • Mozzarella
  • Pepperoni
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Rigatoni
  • Ricotta

Finish by folding up the pasta sheets into the bowl. Brush with an egg wash to seal any holes or vulnerable areas.

Bake for 1.5 hours at 350 degrees or until the pasta is browned and firm. Get out your scale. Weigh the beast. Ours was 13 pounds!


Turn it upside down to release the timpano, and… 
Child’s head for size comparison.
What a fun spin on Thanksgiving! Our family flipped over this one. Each slice reveals something different – don’t forget to serve with some extra sauce overtop for the perfect bite.
Raven’s Note – What we’d do different
In our champagne-induced excitement, we completely spaced out on a big step. Cooking the pasta sheets! Next time, boil the pasta sheets and they won’t dry out as you’re lining the bowl, and the outer layer will be softer/chewier. Since we didn’t boil the fresh pasta, ours had the consistency of a bread crust, which was also delicious. But next time…we boil!

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