Greco Timpano Bianco
Serves 6 – 8
Inspired by: Melissa Clark
1 1/4 c (150 g) all purpose flour*
2 egg yolks*
300g (~ 4- 5 c) whole wheat penne pasta
5 c/1 kg/~35 oz raw spinach
~250 g sausage, cut into ~1 in pieces. I used the spicy pork sausage from the butcher but any sausage will do. This is ~3 regular sausage links.
1 medium onion
4 spring onions
2 large mozzarella balls (~8 oz/250 g each)
1 tbsp (15 ml) raki (optional, see note on raki)
Oregano, salt and pepper to season
* If you don’t want to make your own pasta sheets, you can buy fresh lasagna pasta sheets.
Prepare the pasta sheets
- Add the flour to a large bowl and make a well in the center. Add the egg yolks and whisk with a form to incorporate, and then use your hands to combine the dough. Knead until smooth, adding cool water as you go to help the dough come together. Wrap in plastic wrap and let rest for at least 30 minutes, or place if the refrigerator if not using immediately.
- Once rested and when all your fillings are prepared per below, divide the pasta dough into 4 equal parts. Use a rolling pin or pasta roller to roll out 3 rectangular-ish sheets that will be long enough to cover the bottom of your baking pot or pan including up and over the sides. Reserve the last portion of pasta and roll out into a circle that you will place on the top to seal the timpano once it is filled.
Prepare the fillings
- For the penne pasta: Cook the penne pasta and set aside. I recommend rinsing with cold water once it’s cooked to halt the cooking process.
- For the sausage and onions: Cook the sausage pieces in a skillet or pan on medium-high heat. You shouldn’t need much oil (if any) as the sausage should have a decent amount of fat in it. Meanwhile, chop the onions. When the sausage is cooked, remove the cooked pieces and place aside in a bowl. Keep the pan with the sausage oils and juices and sautee the onions in the pan until they are transluscent, adding a dash of olive oil to help them along if needed.
- For the spinach: Wash the spinach well. In a large pot, fill half way with water and bring to a boil. Place the spinach in the boiling water and bring down to a low simmer. Stir in all the spanich and let it cook for 4 – 5 minutes or until the spinach is just wilting but still bright green and not falling apart. Strain in a collander in the sink and rinse with cool water or add a few ice cubes. Let stand to drain.
- When the spinach has cooled and drained a bit, remove the liquid completely by taking hangfuls of the cooked spinach and squeezing out the water. This in an important step. You will find that a lot of water is squeezed out of the spinach and if you do not remove it your timpano will be watery and soggy. Place the drained spinach in a bowl and loosley pull apart. Add half of the sauteed onions and a dash of dried oregano. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine the pasta, remaining onions, sausage, and mozzarella (shred by hand), raki, and a small dash of salt and pepper.
To prepare the timpano
- Preheat the oven to 375F/190C.
- Lightly oil the cooking pan with olive oil. I used an 8.5 wide x 3 deep inch circular pan here. For insurance, I prefer to also criss-cross line the pan with two pieces of parchment paper, but this is optional. To do this I recommend oiling the pan, as well as on and between the parchment sheets.
- Layer your rolled out pasta sheets inside the pan, starting by placing the middle of the sheet into the center/bottom making sure the bottom is covered and then bringing out the edges so the excess of pasta sheets hang over the side of the pan. See photo below.
- Once your pasta is layered, you can start adding the filling. Add one layer of the penne pasta filling, all the spinach filling, and then the remaining layer of penne pasta filling.
- Cover the top of the timpano with the remaining, circular pasta sheet and fold the excess of pasta sheets on to it and over the top so everything is sealed. You will flip the timpano over when it’s done so don’t worry about how the bottom looks.
- Cover the timpano with foil and bake for ~20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another ~15 minutes or until the top is nicely browned (the one pictured could have gone 5 minutes longer). You can leave the foil on the whole time if your oven is strong, but mine is not so I need to remove it to ensure the outer pasta crusts properly.
- Remove from the oven and let stand for at least 10 – 15 minutes to allow the crust to harden. Then carefully place the serving plate or board on top of the timpano and flip it over. The timpano should slide out of the pan. Use a sharp knife to slice and serve.