My Eureka Moment : Lemon Flavored Timballo Siciliano
I am sure you know there are 50 Shades of Grey, and there are more than 50 different words and expression for Snow and ice in the frozen landscapes where Eskimos live. In our own country we have 1000 name of Lord Vishnu in Vishnu Sahastranama. The point I am trying to make bake here is that we tend to have many names and ways of speaking of things that we think a lot about.
So is it surprising that there are more than 300 types of recognized Pasta shapes and god knows how many types of pasta recipes that the Italians have thought of? I am pretty sure even Italians don’t have the answer to that.
So consider my dilemma when I read about Del Monte – Blog Your Way to Italy contest about making pasta. I was in dilemma because I was not sure if I should participate in a contest about cooking, but then the first prize is a Food tour to Italy, including learning Italian cooking, which is a big draw for any traveler. So I decided to take the plunge.
So the trip to Italy bait got my culinary antennas stand erect like perfectly stiff Semolina before they are boiled in water. My brain was working overtime and there were many question marks in my mind and the questions were all getting jumbled up like spaghetti. Slowly I untangled the same and listed the thoughts segregating them using Gramigna like commas, putting Stelle or star shape pastas on my ideas that I loved. Soon my whole thought process was pastized (not to be confused with Pasteurized) and I was thinking in terms of pasta shapes, sizes and recipes.
But I was unable to decide what pasta dish I should make.
So I went back to the drawing board and finalized that I should get in touch with my friends in Italy. After all who can make pasta better than an Italian? Now I am one lucky guy when it comes to friends in Italy at all the right places. I hope you understand what I mean (gives a sinister one-sided smile just like a Gramignoni)
All my awesome Italian friends replied with some great ideas and I decided to try my hand at a recipe that I received from the scenic town of Syracuse in Sicily. The recipe is a family recipe from my friend and awesome photographer Emanuele and as per him this is one of the many variations of the recipe but this is what his mom makes at home. ( thanks a lot mama, desi sends some love from India 🙂 )
But, but but, as the recipe asked for Aubergine which by name looks something very sophisticated, but is actually what we desis call Brinjal. Now the challenge was I don’t like Brinjal no matter by what name you call it. Aubergine, Egg Plant, Baba ghanoush ( in Arabian / Jordanian Cuisine ) so I was wondering what to use in place of this plant with many names, which apparently many people like to give it so many names.
After thinking a lot I had my light bulb on the head like in comic strip moment and started screaming ” Eureka, Eureka, just like the most famous Siracusan did more than 2 thousand years ago. So dear reader I decided to give a twist to the recipe. So Friends, Country Men, Romans, Sicilians, Tucsonans, Siracusans, and desis sit tight for desi Traveler is about to present
Lemon Flavored Timballo Siciliano
Now this Timballo is not your everyday pasta dish, it invokes same emotions that Gajar ka Halwa does in movies where Nirupama Roy plays Maa. Actually a Hollywood movie called Big Night, cooks around Timballo, (though they called the dish timpano, for reasons best know to the movie director).
Anyways you can Google the movie later and let us make some mouth-watering Lemon Flavored Timbalo Siciliano like no one has made before. Array Baba it is original recipe so nobody could have made it before me. Over to Lemon Flavored Timballo Siciliano with a twist :
So here are the ingredients that you will need.
- Chifferi Rigati Pasta from Del Monte 150 -200 gms
- A Zucchini – (Ha ha that vegetable with many names but no love for desi’s taste buds can go to hell we have replaced it with a juicy, flavorful Zucchini )
- Capsicum in as many colors u can get – I used one sunset crimson red and another in Golden yellow color like the blooms in January in Sarson ke khet in Punjab.
- Some beans – about 10
- Orange carrots – one carrot
- White Button Mushrooms -7-8
- Ginger – one small piece
- Garlic – 5-7
- Onion – One
- Chives – one tea-spoon
- Oregano – one tea-spoon
- Basil– 5-6 leaves if fresh, one tea-spoon if dried
- Mint– 5-6 leaves if fresh, one tea-spoon if dried
- Processed cheese
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil – 4 spoons
- Some lemon leaves
- And some Cherry Tomatoes – about half one bowl ( if you don’t have cherry tomatoes you can use normal tomatoes but they are just not that flavorful as cherry tomatoes )
Click on the slide show belwo to see some of the images of veggies clicked in preparation of the Timballo Sicliliano
Pls Check the Slide Show
The idea here is that the volume of fresh-cut vegetables should be double of pasta before it is boiled. This will be enough for 4 adults of 2 kids. (No it is not the other way round)
You will also need: Frying pan, an oven, a baking cup.
Total preparation time will be about 45 minutes if you follow the steps in sequence. If you can multitask and do things in parallel you may able to do it in 30 minutes. (NOTE: If you are multitasking in kitchen and burn your hand then I am not responsible, try personal accident insurance provider if you insist)
But why rush? Remember that Ad about filter coffee where you are advised not to rush. Well it applies even more to Lemon Flavored Timballo Siciliano made with Zucchini.
So let us start the preparation for Timballo Siciliano which is a variation of the recipe I sourced from my Italian friend with deep tap roots in the picturesque town of Syracuse in Sicily.
True Trivia: Syracuse is the same town where Archimedes ran naked screaming Eureka Eureka. We will totally focus on his streaking in the streets and ignore the fact that he came up with Archimedes principle that led to further advancement of science specially metallurgy and ignore that he created Archimedes Screw. What was with this guy running naked and inventing screws, some of you may wonder; totally forgetting that we are here to make Lemon Flavored Timballo Siciliano?
So back to the path that leads to pasta
Once you have collected all the ingredients chop them into long thin slices, eexcept for Zucchini, that we will slice in long thin flat portions.
Once you are ready with all the ingredients within your work space in kitchen will start by following these steps
- Heat some extra virgin olive oil in a pan
- Sprinkle the Zucchini with some salt and let them absorb it for a minute of two. Fry the Zucchini in olive oil till they are nicely done. You will know this when they turn slightly yellowish and tender.
- Remove the Zucchini from oil and let it rest in a plate.
- Heat the water, and add the pasta to water, along with some lemon leaves. Now the reason I added lemon leaves and not lemon are two. A) There was no lemons available de to extreme heat. B) I want the flavor of lemon and not the taste as I prefer the slightly sour taste given by the cherry tomatoes and not the acidic overwhelming taste to lemons. (This is our secret step /ingredient shh!!). Make sure that the lemon leaves are tender otherwise they may give bitter taste also. Any citrus plant leaves should give you the flavor if lemon leaves are not available. Unless your olfactory glands are more sensitive than a blood hound. Boil the pasta for 8 minutes and keep it aside till the sauce is ready.
- Add a little more oil to the pan and once it is hot, you can start adding the veggies / herbs to it starting with Garlic, Ginger and Onions. Once the onions are tender and the garlic golden start adding other veggies. Capsicum, beans, mushrooms, carrots. Make sure you add the cherry tomatoes in the end. The reason I add cherry tomatoes in the end as they will form the base of your sauce.
- You can add some red chili powder and other spices and herbs with salt as per your taste.
- When the spices are thoroughly mixed with the veggies add pasta
- Garnish with herbs like Oregano, Chives, fresh mint and some basil. You can add any other herbs that you fancy or are available in your garden/ fridge
- Add some cheese on the pasta, my personal favorite is Parmesan but in this recipe I used processed cheese easily available in supermarket shelves.
- Let everything simmer for a few minutes as the cheese and cherry tomatoes mix and give you slightly thick gravy that should not drip at all if you have done everything correctly.
- Now you need to line a baking cup with the fried Zucchini and fill it with the pasta and close the cup like shown in picture with help of the zucchini.
- Place the zucchini cup in a preheated oven and bake it for 15 minutes at 180 degree centigrade.
- Take out the cup once done and allow it to cool it a little. Then carefully empty the baking cup in a plate. Garnish it with herbs of your choice and serve it to your kids.
- Do not inform the kids that Timballo Siciliano contains Lemon flavored pasta. Let them discover the same and see the joy on their face.
You can also watch this video I made while preparing Lemon flavored Timballo Siciliano.
You can also watch this video I made while preparing Lemon flavored Timballo Siciliano.
Now if you are like me you will always make more pasta than needed for the Timballo Siciliano and the extra pasta cooked can be enjoyed as it is also without baking it with Zucchini.
You may want to heat it a bit more in microwave. Check this picture below of the pasta without the Zucchini Wrap.
If you want the original recipe that my dear friend, world traveler and awesome photographer Emanuele shared with me head to his photo blog: The Siracusas
This post is part of Del Monte: Blog Your Way to Italy contest #ItalianEscapades
Go ahead and check more about Del Monte here.
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