Pastina Timbale with Zucchini

pastina timbale with zucchini

This dish is called  pastina timbale , a timbale is is a mold and food can be cooked or placed inside it. A pasta timbale is great for entertaining and it’s such a fun way to serve up little tiny pasta, or pastina as we call it in my family.

Even though you can make this in individual ramekins I prefer the more dramatic presentation using one large bowl, and it’s easier!

pastina timbale with zucchini This is my version of Michael Chiarello’s recipe for pastina timbale, he used a pound of diced Italian sausage folded into the pasta and sauce, I prefer using zucchini  instead of meat, it’s lighter and I think it pairs well with the delicate pastina, but you can be creative in using your favorite ingredients.

You want to sautee the zucchini first getting it to a nice deep golden brown color, then fold it into the mixture of cooked pasta, cheese and a some marinara preferably flavored with garlic and basil, I always opt for homemade but if you can get a good store bought one go ahead, make your life easier!

This is perfect for a summer buffet because you don’t have to worry about it sitting out at room temperature because nothing will spoil.

pastina timbale with zucchini Line a bowl with crispy and flavorful breadcrumbs, then press the pasta mixture into your mold.

pastina timbale with zucchini Let it sit for fifteen minutes and then it’s time to un-mold.

pastina timbale with zucchini TA-DA! Isn’t she pretty and how easy is that? It’s all about the presentation here.

pastina timbale with zucchini

And it tastes crazy good!

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Pastina Timbale with Zucchini
  • 1 lb of tiny pasta, I like the round shape
  • 4 medium zucchini, all seeds removed and then diced small
  • olive oil for sauteeing zucchini, crisping the breadcrumbs and for brushing
  • 1 cup of good bread crumbs
  • 2 garlic cloves, diced small or grated
  • ½ cup of chopped fresh parsley
  • ¾ cup of grated romano or parmesan cheese
  • a sprinkle or 2 of pepperoncino, (optional)
  • 3 full cups of prepared marinara sauce, garlic and basil flavored, homemade or an exceptional store bought
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • basil and parsley leaves for decorating
  1. In a skillet drizzle 2 tablespoons of the olive oil,add the garlic over medium heat till golden then pour in the breadcrumbs stirring until lightly toasted, 3 to 5 minutes. remove from heat, let it cool then add ¼ cup each of parsley and the grated cheese, then drizzle 2 more tablespoons of oil, toss and mix.
  2. Brush a large round bowl with olive oil, mine was 8 inches.
  3. Press breadcrumb mixture along the sides and bottom of the bowl evenly. Set aside.
  4. In a large skillet, drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil and on high heat cook your diced zucchini until nice and golden, keep stirring and watching it only takes a few minutes, set aside.
  5. Boil your pasta according to package directions, don't overcook it,then drain.
  6. Heat your sauce at the same time.
  7. Get a different bowl then add the drained pasta, the sauce, the tablespoon of butter, the ½ cup of grated cheese and the additional ¼ cup of parsley, toss together then fold in the sauteed zucchini.
  8. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
  9. Spoon mixture into breadcrumb lined bowl, evenly distribute it along the sides and bottom, pressing down lightly.
  10. Let it rest for 15 minutes.
  11. Un-mold onto a platter then decorate with basil and parsley leaves.
  12. Enjoy!



Pumpkin Pastina

pastina In many Italian households children are first introduced to pasta by way of pastina. Pastina literally means “little pasta”. Today you can find shapes of many different forms, from tiny dots to stars, alphabets, and many more. My own kids grew up with pastina, simply made with a little butter, and grated cheese, but this recipe takes it over the top with a beautiful presentation in a pumpkin, hence the name pumpkin pastina.

To this day it’s the kind of comfort food that my family and I still crave today.

When I first saw this recipe in Michael Chiarello’s cookbook…The Tra Vigne… all my fond memories of pastina came rushing back, I just had to make this!

Tiny pastina cooked in a warm broth flavored with onion, & thyme, adding to that, creamy parmesan cheese, and roasted butternut squash.

I can barely describe how good this is, it almost didn’t make it to the table, I’m warning you you’ll be tempted to eat it right over the stove with a spoon!

roasted pumpkin By all means, you don’t have to serve it in a pumpkin like it’s featured here, but the presentation is so eye catching and very festive for this time of year, and besides, you have to roast your butternut squash anyway so why not do it all on the same baking sheet.
This recipe serves four, and the pumpkin I used was on the small side about 6 or 8 inches round. I was going to use the green one in the photo as well but decided against it.
Just cut the top, scoop out the seeds, oil it inside and out, and season with salt and pepper. Place the lids back on the top when baking.
For the butternut squash, I just cut it in half, scoop out the seeds, oil it inside and out add salt and pepper, and then place it cut side down on baking sheet.
Both will cook at 375F for about 40 min’s. You want your pumpkin still firm enough to stand up, so depending on what size you use, you might want to keep checking it.
NOTE: Do all of this earlier in the day to get it out of the way, the pastina cooks up fast.
autumn leaves This has nothing to do with the recipe at all, but I just wanted to show you the beautiful colors that were on these leaves that I saw when I was taking a walk the other day, I just love the fall colors!

pastina Michael added turkey in his recipe and cooked the pastina like risotto, adding the broth little by little. I didn’t do that.
You certainly could add turkey to it if you like, for a more heartier meal. I didn’t do that either. I might however, use his suggestion to chiffonade some chard or spinach into it next time.
In a pot, sauté about 1 cup of onion in olive oil, season with salt and pepper and fresh thyme.
Pour in 4 cups of stock (I used chicken) and bring to a gentle boil.
When stock is boiling pour in 3/4 lb. of your dry pastina or any tiny pasta.
When al dente, fold in about 1 cup of your roasted butternut squash that has been scooped out, and 1/2 cup of good parmesan cheese. Season it to taste with salt and pepper.
The consistency should be loose, so you might want to add more stock to it, so have extra on hand if need be.
Pumpkin pastina is the perfect meal to make this fall.
Buon Appetito!