Have you ever designed a dish around an ingredient? That’s what happened here. A very thoughtful long time friend bought me some smoked scarmorza recently, and I was thinking of something delicious I could use it in. I used most of it here and the rest in a zucchini parmigiana, which I usually make with mozzarella. I used eggplant and peas as well as the scarmorza for my timballo but you can use all sorts of ingredients. Sydney’s Buon Ricordo does a devine version with tiny veal meatballs, quail eggs and provola. I’ve seen others where each pasta tube is piped with spinach and ricotta, and others which are done with a Bolognese sauce. It’s a fiddly dish but worth it.
1 medium eggplant
1/3 cup plain flour
2 hard boiled eggs
1 small onion, finely diced
150g frozen peas
150g smoked scarmorza
Chop the eggplant into small cubes (small enough to fit inside rigatoni, I used a chopping contraption I got from Williams and Sonoma which I bring out when I have a recipe requiring perfectly consistent slicing or chopping). Put the flour in a plastic freezer bag, add the eggplant and shake to coat. Place a frypan on high heat with about 1cm of olive oil. Once the olive oil is hot, fry the eggplant, in batches if needed, until golden, and drain on a paper towel. Season and set aside.
Place the peas in a bowl and microwave for a few minutes. In the meantime, put a tablespoon of oil in a small frypan and saute the onion until soft. Add the peas and saute for another 4-5 minutes. Take off the heat and put the peas and onion in a bowl and allow to cool.
Chop the eggs into small cubes, small enough pieces to fit inside rigatoni, and add to the peas. Likewise with the scarmorza. Finally add the eggplant to the bowl and combine all the ingredients.
4 tbps olive oil
2 x 400g tins whole tomatoes
4-5 basil leaves
Heat the oil in a small pot, add the tomatoes, 1 cup of water, the basil and salt and allow to simmer on low to medium heat for 30 minutes. Take off the heat, puree with a stick blender and set aside.
50g grated parmesan, plus extra for serving
Chopped basil, for garnish
In a large pot, bring some salted water to the boil and cook the rigatoni until al dente, circa 8 minutes. Strain and lay the rigatoni on a tea towel to dry and cool. In a large bowl (large enough to fit all the rigatoni), crack the egg and beat lightly. Add the parmesan and then add the rigatoni and combine. Add two ladles of sauce to the bowl and combine to coat the rigatoni.
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius fan forced.
Grease a 19cm springform cake tin and line the base and sides with baking paper. Starting from the rim, place the rigatoni standing up until the tin is full (you may have a small amount of rigatoni left over).
Gently start filling the rigatoni with the timballo filing mix. (I didn’t use all I mix, I thought it was pretty full, but once I cut it post cooking I realise I could have stuffed more in, so don’t be shy). Once done, spoon a couple of ladles of the tomato sauce on the top and give the tin a gentle tap.
Cover the filled springform tin with foil and bake for about 30 minutes, remove the foil and bake for a further 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to sit for 10-15 minutes. Place a plate over the top of the cake tin and flip the timballo. Loosen the springform tin and remove and remove the baking paper.
Garnish with parmesan and chopped basil and serve. You can also spoon over and remaining tomato sauce.