Eggplant Timpano at the Neighborhood "Big Night" (A Great Vegetarian Thanksgiving)

Moving on this year, we added a vegetarian timpano from Stanley Tucci’s new cookbook, THE TUCCI COOKBOOK. Layered inside a 10-inch springform pan lined with thinly sliced, broiled eggplant, this luscious creation is perfect for your vegetarian Thanksgiving.

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     Our Colorado Springs neighborhood is nothing if not social.  While we don’t live in and out of one another’s pockets, we are close enough to send out an email one morning to come for a grill supper that night or to stop by for a piece of cake for an impromptu anniversary celebration. Potlucks are a regular occurrence, as are out-to-lunch get togethers, occasional golf games, book discussions, and plain old, “Come over for a glass of wine” evenings.  We know we weren’t meant to live alone.
     If you’ve followed the blog for long, you’ve seen older posts about activities, and maybe you’ve read up on THE BIG NIGHT, a neighborhood event patterned after Stanley Tucci’s great movie about two Italian brothers who come to America to make their fortune in the restaurant business.  (Not an impromptu evening….)  If not, I hope you’ve at least seen the movie.  It’s an indie cult classic and one of my very favorites that also stars Minnie Driver, Isabella Rossellini, Tony Shaloub, and a very silent, skinny, and oh-so-young Marc Anthony.
    Of course, for our neighborhood, (we’re eaters) the real star of the show is the timpano. Several of us gather one afternoon each year to bring together all the elements and gently scoot that big drum into the oven just so we can have a party and feed everyone.

timpano (alyce’s definition)– an approximately 12-16-inch wide, 12-inch deep pie baked in a large pan (like an enameled dish pan) that contains layers of pasta, cheese, sauce, meatballs, sausage, boiled eggs, and more.  Named timpano (the Italian word for timpani and so it is shaped like one), this hearty dish feeds a crowd and is a fine reason for a happy gathering of cooks and guests. 
    (Read about our other neighborhood BIG NIGHT celebrations here and here.)
     Our group kind of follows the recipe of a blogger named The Tipsy Cook, but you can also now buy Stanley Tucci’s new cookbook and get  his version of the recipe there.  I did actually use Stanley’s recipe for the vegetarian timpano you see in the picture at top.  (If you use Tipsy’s recipe for the big timpano, be sure to catch the updates. The first version has no fat in the pastry, for instance; check the 2010 edition for a new, more workable crust.)

     Buy a copy of Stanley’s book here.  Buy two and give one to a friend; this is a beautifully written, photographed, and produced book full of food you’ll want to make again and again.  One writer friend of mine visited over the weekend and kept handling the book, cooing over it, “This is so beautiful….”

    If you decide to make a timpano, do read the recipe all the way through thoroughly before you organize folks, shop for ingredients, and begin to make it.  This is not something you can put together out of your pantry on the spur of the moment.  And besides, it is terribly grand; it needs preparation and a dramatic entrance.   It deserves people waiting for it and clapping when it’s served!  Cameras must be ready!  Appetites should be tuned and, of course, wine poured.
It also has to rest before you cut it or it’ll slip, slide, and fall all over.  Lots of patience.  Lots of wine.
Here are a few shots of the process with a few notes:
    Before the gathering of the timpano cooks, someone makes sauce.  Someone makes meatballs, buys sausage, grates cheese… One cleans; another buys wine.  Glasses and flatware are pooled.  The TV is dusted and the dvd located so we can watch the movie.  Some of us, anyway.
Sauce… and layering ingredients…

Dough is made fresh that afternoon and all take turns rolling.

The pan is greased; the oven preheated.  (We ordered our pan online.)

The empty canvas…

Reading the recipe as we fill the pastry.  So we don’t forget anything.

Grandcooks from Oregon are welcome.

Friends come from other states.

Into the oven, ready or not.  Happy.  Tired.  How about a nap?

Moss–aka TIMPANO DOG, waiting by the oven where it’s nice and warm.

At this point, it’s time for a drink and a bit of a clean-up while the timpano bakes and antipasti is prepared.  Quick showers, a little makeup, a decent outfit, and maybe even a clean apron before….

Saint Paul neighbors travel for the event.

and it’s………..da da da dahhhh….    TIMPANO!

Of course we watch the movie.  Again…

Cousins watch, too.

At the end….we’re thinking it was a great party!!!
Here are a few views of the vegetarian version being made earlier in the day…. I think it would make a wonderful vegetarian Thanksgiving dish.  Prepared  early the morning, chilled, and brought to room temperature, it can then be heated while friends have an autumnal cocktail….  The only other thing you need is pumpkin pie.
Do buy Stanley Tucci’s cookbook for the recipe, or google “vegetarian timpano” or “eggplant timbale.”  Copyright issues preclude including the recipe here.
Letting eggplant lose its “water”
The start of a veggie sauce.
An unseasoned white sauce that will combine with the red.
Water on the hob to boil.
The pan readied.
Sauce almost done…
I broiled the sliced eggplant for the outer layer, but you can grill it if you’re in a warm climate.

Sing a new song, preferably one by Louis Prima,


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