A Drum of Eggplant and Bucatini (Timballo Di Melanzane E Bucatin

READY IN: 2hrs 30mins
SERVES: 10-12




  • Cut off the stems of the eggplants and discard. Slice the eggplant lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices.
  • Salt and layer the eggplant slices in a colander set over a bowl.
  • Place a large bowl of water on top of the slices to act as a weight. Let the eggplant "sweat" for at least 1 hour to remove the excess water.
  • Butter a 9 x 3 1/2-inch-deep round mold or cake pan and coat the inside evenly with the 1/2 cup bread crumbs.
  • Shake out the excess crumbs and refrigerate the mold until ready to fill.
  • To make the sauce:
  • In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil and cook, stirring, the onions, carrot, and celery until they soften.
  • Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until the garlic softens.
  • Stir in the tomatoes, red wine, and bay leaf.
  • Cover the pan and simmer the sauce for 30 minutes.
  • Season with salt and pepper and set aside. Remove the bay leaf before using.
  • Cook the bucatini according to the directions.
  • Drain and transfer to a large bowl. Set aside.
  • In a medium-size bowl, combine the veal, egg, white wine, the 2 tablespoons grated Pecorino, bread crumbs, and salt. Mix gently to just combine the ingredients. Form marble-sized meatballs with your hands.
  • Note: Instead of frying the meatballs, bake Bake the meatball on a lightly greased cookie sheet at 350ºF until nicely browned, about 20 minutes.
  • Transfer the meatballs to the bowl with the bucatini. Add the mozzarella, parsley, and 2 cups of the tomato sauce. Stir to combine the ingredients well and set aside.
  • Rinse and dry the eggplant slices.
  • Heat the peanut oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Fry the eggplant slices a few at a time until they soften, about 2 minutes on each side.
  • Drain the slices on brown paper.
  • Use additional oil if the pan seems dry.
  • Preheat the oven to 325ºF.
  • Line the prepared mold with the eggplant slices, draping them lengthwise over the bottom and overlapping them up the sides of the mold. There should be about a 3-inch overhang over the top edges of the mold. Make sure there are no open spots and that the mold is completely lined with the slices.
  • Spoon the bucatini mixture evenly in the mold, packing it down with a wooden spoon all the way around.
  • Fold the overhanging slices of eggplant in over the top of the mold; the mixture should be completely encased by the eggplant.
  • Spread 1/2 cup of the remaining tomato sauce over the top of the mold and sprinkle with the 1/4 cup Pecorino.
  • Bake the timballo, uncovered, for 45 minutes. It is done when the timballo shrinks a bit along the sides and a knife will easily move along the sides.
  • Remove the mold from the oven and loosely cover the top with a sheet of aluminum foil. Let the mold stand for 20 minutes.
  • Heat the remaining tomato sauce. Remove the foil from the timballo and run a butter knife around the inside edges to loosen it. Place a serving dish larger than the mold over the top and carefully invert it onto the dish.
  • Cut the timballo into wedges and serve with additional sauce on the side.
  • Tip: Use fresh mozzarella cheese, but if it is not available, substitute pasteurized.