Yesterday’s excitement called for lots of carbs – and a glass of wine! It was a day packed with too many emotions to handle. After sharing the cover of my book and the Amazon pre-order links here on the blog, I felt overwhelmed by all the sweet emails and messages I got from all over the world. I needed good, solid, rustic food for dinner to calm me down. I made a dish that is so packed with carbs that it actually feels a little weird, but it’s also packed with flavour and comfort, so it makes sense. I baked a springy Maltese pasta pie, also known as Timpana. I introduced you to this Maltese street food classic a few months ago and the response to the recipe was crazy.
Timpana is basically short pasta stuffed into a buttery pastry shell. Usually, it’s enriched with Bolognese, which is nice but it can get a little boring if you’ve eaten it for years, so last time I made it I went for a meat-free Mediterranean filling of zucchini, eggplant, tomato, and basil. It was so good that I thought I’d never need another filling ever again. But then spring came around the corner with all its pretty greens. Wouldn’t it be nice to see green asparagus, sweet peas, and leek inside this pie beauty? I didn’t have to think about it twice. I went to the grocery store, put all the vegetables in my bicycle’s basket, and once home, I turned on the oven.
It’s still a little weird for me to look at this combination of penne and shortcrust in a rational way but maybe this dish shouldn’t be overanalyzed. It simply feels and tastes good, and after the first bite, my mind and emotions were at ease again: I felt so happy and thankful to have the eat in my kitchen blog and book in my life, both of them connect me with so many people all over the world and bring so many fantastic experiences into my life.
Behind the scenes of my Timpana on Snapchat: eatinmykitchen!
Spring Timpana – Maltese Pasta Pie with Asparagus, Peas, and Leeks
You’ll need a 20 1/2cm / 8″ springform pan.
For the filling
penne pasta 250g / 9 ounces
green asparagus, trimmed, about 500g / 1 pound
peas, fresh or frozen, 200g / 7 ounces
leek, thinly sliced, 200g / 7 ounces
Dijon mustard 3 teaspoons
fine sea salt 1 teaspoon
organic egg 1
Parmesan, freshly grated, 80g / 3 ounces for the filling plus 1 tablespoon for the topping
(or 100g / 3 1/2 ounces for the filling if you prefer the pie more cheesy)
For the pastry
plain flour 300g / 2 1/3 cups
fine sea salt 1 teaspoon
butter, cold, 150g / 2/3 cup
organic egg yolks 2
water, cold, 2 tablespoons
For the glaze
organic egg yolk 1
milk 1 tablespoon
a pinch of fine sea salt
For the filling, cook the penne in salted water until al dente, they should have bite. Let the pasta cool completely.
In a large pot, bring salted water to the boil and cook the asparagus for about 3 minutes or until al dente. Reserve 120ml / 1/2 cup of the cooking water. Drain the asparagus and rinse quickly with cold water. Let the asparagus cool completely, then cut into pieces as long as the penne.
In a small saucepan, cook the peas in boiling salted water for 1 minute. Drain and rinse with cold water; set aside.
In a large, heavy pan, heat a splash of olive oil over medium-high heat and cook the leek for about 10 minutes, stirring once in a while, or until golden and soft; let it cool completely.
Preheat the oven to 200°C / 400°F (conventional setting).
For the pastry, combine the flour and salt in a large bowl. Cut the butter with a knife into the flour until there are just little pieces of butter left. Continue with your fingers and rub the butter into the flour until combined. Add the egg yolks and water and continue mixing with the dough hooks of an electric mixer until you have a crumbly mixture. Form 2 discs, dividing the dough roughly 2:1, wrap in cling film, and put in the freezer for 10 minutes.
For the filling, in a large bowl, combine the pasta, the reserved asparagus cooking water, mustard, salt, and a generous amount of ground pepper. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and mustard, then stir in the egg and mix until well combined. To fill the pie, the filling should be completely cool.
For the glaze, in a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk, milk and salt .
Take the dough out of the freezer and roll out both discs between cling film, the large disc, for the bottom and sides of the springform pan, should be about 32cm / 12 1/2″, and the smaller disc should be big enough to cover the pie.
Line the bottom and sides of the springform pan with the large pastry disc. Spread 1/3 of the pasta mixture on top of the pastry, sprinkle with 1/3 of the Parmesan, 1/3 of the vegetables (asparagus, peas, and leek) and season with salt and pepper to taste. Continue making 2 more layers. Pour any remaining liquid from the pasta mixture over the filling. Close with the pastry lid and gently push the rim with your fingers to seal the pie. Using a toothpick, prick a few holes into the top of the pie. Brush the top with the egg glaze and sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon of cheese.
Bake the pie for 15 minutes, then turn the heat down to 175°C / 350°F and bake for another 50 minutes or until the pie is golden and the pastry is baked through. Let the pie cool for at least 15 minutes before you cut it into pieces.