Eggplant Timbale: the classic main dish recipe for Italian timballo di melanzane

Total time: 75 Min
Difficulty: Low
Serves: 8 people
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By Cookist

Eggplants are a staple ingredient in the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern kitchens. They’re extremely versatile and can be served roasted, fried, pureed, or in a stew. An eggplant timbale, or Timballo di Melanzane in Italian, is a classic Italian main dish made with pasta, sometimes meat and vegetables, and cheese—all covered with eggplant slices.

The dish is made in a Bundt pan, which also makes it very presentable—perfect for entertaining! The recipe takes a bit of effort to make, but it’s definitely worth it!

What Is A Timbale?

Eggplant timbale (called Timballo di Melanzane) is a classic Italian dish made with pasta, meat, vegetables, and cheese. But the star of the show is eggplant.

A timbale dish is said to have originated in France, way back in the 18th century. It gets its name from the drum mold in which it was traditionally prepared, the timbale, which is a drum-shaped mold used to cook a variety of dishes.

Our eggplant dish is created by covering a mixture of tomato, pasta, and eggs with grilled eggplant.

What Are The Best Eggplants For Making Timbale?

While any eggplant variety will work for this dish, larger eggplants will be easier to slice and easier to work with. Long eggplants will work best!

Eggplant Timbale Ingredients

Pasta – use penne or any other short pasta.

Eggplants – larger eggplants will work better for this recipe.

Cheese – Parmesan is used for flavor and mozzarella for that perfect cheese stretch!

Eggs – use fresh, large eggs.

Tomato puree – use tomato puree, passata, or canned tomato (not tomato paste).

Can You Add Meat To The Eggplant Timbale?

If you want, you can add meat. Cooked ground beef, Italian sausage, chopped ham, or shredded rotisserie chicken will all work.

Feel free to any other veggies to the Eggplant Timbale: peas, mushrooms, leeks, zucchini, bell peppers, red onions, sweetcorn, and spinach will all work. Just make sure to sauté the veggies beforehand, and cook until all the moisture is removed.

Tips For Making Italian Eggplant Timbale

The pasta can easily be replaced with rice or other grains like quinoa, bulgur wheat, farro, or barely.

Cheese variations. Use any type of cheese you like: feta cheese, goat’s cheese, cheddar cheese, swiss cheese, or Gruyere. Dairy-free cheese will also work.

How To Store and Reheat Eggplant Timbale

Store the Eggplant Timbale in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Leftovers can be reheated in a 350F oven until heated through (about 15 mins).

penne pasta
500 g (5 cups)
medium eggplants
Garlic, minced
2 cloves
Tomato puree
750 ml (3 cups)
Parmesan cheese
30 g (1/3 cup)
mozzarella, shredded
250 g (2 cups)
hard-boiled eggs

How To Make Eggplant Timbale

Slice eggplants thinly. Whisk a generous pinch of salt into a bowl of water and place eggplant slices in the salted water.  Let sit in the fridge for 1 hour, drain and pat dry.

Heat some olive oil over medium heat and cook eggplant slices on both sides for 2-3 minutes total.

Layer ⅔ of eggplant slices into a 20 cm bundt cake pan to cover the bottom and sides.

Next, mix tomato puree with minced garlic. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper if needed. Cook pasta according to the box instructions. Drain and mix with tomato sauce, parmesan, mozzarella and a chopped hard-boiled egg.

Spread ½ of the pasta in a bundt cake pan on top of the eggplants.

Slice 2 hard-boiled eggs.

Place them on top of the pasta.

Cover with leftover pasta.

Top the mixture with extra eggplant slices.

Bake for 25 minutes at 200°C/400°F. Remove from the oven and let it cool for few minutes.

Slice, serve and enjoy!

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