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Maltese Baked Pasta

20 June 2014 / 08:06:56  GRReporter
2093 reads

Danielle Lachana

The cuisine of Malta, due to its location and perhaps even more so its history, shows particularly strong Sicilian and English influences as well as North African and Arabic influences, plus many elements from Spanish and other Mediterranean cuisines . It is no surprise then that pasta is a favourite dish.

This popular traditional Maltese dish of ''Pasta in the Oven'' (''Imqarrun il Forn'') is often served for Sunday lunch and each family has its own version. Some add vegetables such as courgettes, carrots and peas, others, chicken livers. There is also a similar dish but where the pasta is baked inside a pastry case that is known as ''Timpana''. If you want to try this simply follow the recipe below adding the variation at the end:

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RECIPE

(Serves 4 - 6)

 

METHOD

Fry the onions and garlic in the olive oil over medium heat until softened and light golden brown. Remove and discard the garlic Add the bacon, if using, followed by the minced beef, breaking it up with a wooden spoon or fork to remove any large lumps. Continue stirring now and again until uniformly light brown. Drain off any excess oil.

Add the oregano and the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for a few minutes.

Add the chopped tomatoes and cook for about another 5 minutes before adding the stock and bay leaf. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

Boil the pasta in abundant salted water until still very al dente (firm to the bite) - basically cook it a few minutes less than the normal cooking time as it will continue cooking in the oven.

Drain the pasta and return it to the pan or transfer to a large bowl.

Stir in the sauce and leave to cool a little before gently stirring in the beaten eggs and half the grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese. Add the hard-boiled eggs if using.

Season to taste.

Note:  If you wish to make the pastry-encased Timpana version, now move to ''Variation'' below.

Put the pasta mixture in an approximately 30 cm by 20 cm buttered  baking pan or large casserole dish. Top with the Edam and remaining Parmesan cheese. Dot with a little butter.

Bake in a pre-heated moderately hot oven at 190o C (375o F, Gas Mark 5) for 30 minutes to 1 hour, depending on how brown and crunchy you would like the top to be.

Leave to cool for about 15 minutes to 'firm up' and cut into slices to serve.

Serve warm or cold.

 

Variation

If you wish to make the more substantial ''Timpana'' version, which serves around 8, then follow the directions below:

Roll out 500 g ready-made flaky pastry (if using phyllo you will need to brush each sheet with melted butter). Use ¾ of it to line the baking pan, fill with the pasta mixture and top with the remaining pastry. Crimp the edges to seal and brush all over with 1 beaten egg. Pierce well with a fork and bake, as above, for 1 hour, or until the top is golden brown and the bottom pastry is cooked through.

Enjoy!

Tags: Maltese Baked Pasta Timpana Mediterranean Recipes Imqarrun Penne
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