Do you know Timballo? You’ll make people happy with this Italian dish that’s as beautiful as it is delicious!

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Are you planning a weekend trip to southern Italy? Our culinary expert in Italian cuisine will help you discover the flavors that make this region of the world a success. On today’s menu: timbalotypical dish of Mediterranean cuisine rated 5 stars out of 5 by readers of 750g. Prepared with pasta and meatballs, this gratin has the particularity of being able to be removed from the mold after cooking like a real tasty cake. You decide !

The recipe video:

For the meatballs:

  • 350g of ground beef
  • 2 slices of mortadella
  • 50g stale bread
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 handful of flat-leaf parsley
  • 40g grated parmesan
  • 1 egg
  • 2 pinches of salt or fine salt
  • 1 grain of black pepper

For the tomato sauce:

  • 1.2 kg of tomato coulis
  • 1 onion
  • 4 tbsp. for %s. oil
  • 2 pinches of salt or fine salt
  • 100 g frozen peas

For the dough and finishing of the gratin:

  • 400 g pasta (tortiglioni or penne)
  • 375g mozzarella
  • 30 g of breadcrumbs
  • 50g grated parmesan
  • 20g of butter
  1. Cut the mozzarella into cubes, place them in a fine sieve with a bowl underneath.
  2. Let it drain.

For the meatballs:


  1. Using a chopper or large knife, finely chop the parsley with the peeled garlic clove. Set aside in a bowl.
  2. Place the stale bread in another bowl, cover with water and let it hydrate.
    Then drain.
  3. Then, press with your hands to remove as much water as possible and crumble into a bowl.
  4. Arrange the meat in a salad bowl. Salt, pepper.
  5. Add the crumbled bread, the mortadella cut into very small pieces, the grated parmesan, the chopped parsley and the eggs.
  6. Stir everything with your hands until you get a fine filling.
  7. With slightly moistened hands, form balls the size of a hazelnut. Gradually place them on a cutting board or large, flat plate.
  8. Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan, add the meatballs and brown them on all sides until golden.
    Drain little by little on absorbent paper and let it cool.

For the tomato sauce:

  1. Peel the onion, cut it into thin slices, place in a pan with the olive oil.
  2. Brown for 1 minute, pour in the tomato passata, salt, cover and cook the sauce for 25 to 30 minutes over medium heat, until it thickens.
  3. At the end of cooking, turn off the heat, add the still frozen peas to the tomato sauce, mix.
  4. Add half of the meatballs to the sauce, stir, cover the pan and let it cool.
  5. Then take 10 meatballs with a little sauce, set aside in a bowl: they will serve as the final decoration of the timballo.

For the pasta:

  1. In a tall pan, bring a large volume of water to a boil, salt the water and dip the pasta in it.
  2. Mix quickly with a wooden spoon, then cook and drain in a large colander until al dente 2 minutes before the end of the cooking time indicated on the pasta package.
  3. Pour the pasta into the tomato sauce. Mix well to cover the pasta with the sauce, add the grated parmesan, mix again and let it cool.

Assembling the macaroni au gratin:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C (static).
    Grease a 22 cm diameter round pan with butter. Sprinkle breadcrumbs on the bottom and edges.
  2. Pour half of the batter into the pan. Arrange the pasta well with the back of a spoon. The dough should also fill the sides of the pan.
  3. Arrange a layer of diced mozzarella, drain well and press with your hands.
  4. Arrange the mozzarella with your hands.
  5. Distribute the remaining meatballs without tomato sauce over the mozzarella.
  6. Add the rest of the dough on top of the mozzarella and meatball layer. Press again so that the dough layer is homogeneous and without holes.
  7. Sprinkle everything with breadcrumbs, then sprinkle with grated parmesan and add a few flakes of butter.
  8. Place in the oven and cook the gratin for 30 to 40 minutes, until golden.
  9. Once cooked, remove from the oven and let it cool in the pan for at least 30 minutes. This waiting time is necessary to be able to easily cut the timballo into slices, without it breaking.
  10. Then invert it onto a large plate.
  11. Open the mold hinge, remove it and remove the bottom.
  12. Let the timballo cool a little more if it is still too hot.
  13. Then, place in the middle, on the surface of the timballo, the meatballs with tomato sauce that you reserved before.
  14. Pour in some defrosted peas and a few shavings of parmesan. Serve and enjoy warm.

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