It doesn’t have to be a “big night” to justify treating yourself to timpano. Even if it’s just a weekday meal for one, there’s no reason why you can’t have exactly what you crave.
For years, I’ve been dazzled by the specter of timpano, just like the rest of the movie-watching world, after seeing the unforgettable unveiling on screen in Big Night. Who could look away as the knife plunged deep into that thick pastry crust, revealing endless layers of pasta, meatballs, salami, eggs, cheese, and red sauce? Given that impossible depth and breadth, I wouldn’t have been surprised to see a whole tomato vine in there, stems, leaves, and all.
What Goes Into Timpano?
It’s like the clown car of foods; it seems to contain much more than could possibly fit inside such a confined space, where truly anything goes. Some versions feature sausage, pepperoni, ricotta, wilted spinach, marinated mushrooms, olives, capers, pickled peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, cubed bread- At some point, you have to wonder if this was just a clever vehicle for repurposing the dregs of the fridge and pantry. The only limit is your appetite.
Unfortunately, for those eating alone, that is a considerable restriction.
How To Make A Tiny Timpano
While I’d relish the opportunity to cook up a few pounds of pasta, throw it into a flaky crust, and go to town, my stomach would hate me for it later. Even for someone who loves gluten, it’s quite the wheat bomb, to say nothing of the absurd serving size. Taming the towering timpano requires more than just downsizing, but significant redesign for a more sound construction.
- Oversized ziti get replaced with more compact orzo to prevent gaping holes. Any other small pasta shapes like pearl couscous, pastina, or stelline are also fair choices.
- Trade out the doughy exterior for tender zucchini, lightly roasted for a subtly smoky, charred essence and greater flexibility. Thinly sliced eggplant, yellow summer squash, or red peppers are excellent alternative edible wrappers, and can be used in concert for greater color and flavor.
- Single serving portions take shape in standard ramekins, no fancy molds needed. Leftovers are a snap to freeze for later enjoyment and can be instantly thawed on demand.
Is A Timpano Of Any Other Size Still As Grand?
I’d answer that with a resounding “yes!” Given that the original dish was named after timpani, AKA kettledrums, I’d like to think that a more creative approach, allowing cooks to march to the beat of their own drums, only serves to better honor the concept. Rather than approaching it as a project, tiny timpanos fit into any schedule or meal plan, especially as an excellent way to use up any odds and ends on hand. Consider the following recipe more of a guideline; any night can be a big night with the right perspective.