Italian Pasta Recipes

How to make Timballo Napoletano – Neapolitan Baked Pasta

Timballo di Maccheroni alla Napoletana……there is no other way to describe this Neapolitan delight than OMG, this is soooooo good!

One of the rare, or shall I say the first Cucina Aristocratica Napoletana recipes to grace these pages, its name comes from the French word timbale, meaning kettledrum.

The gastronomical “it” dish of the 18th and 19th century nobility, it’s a pastry lined drum filled with a creamy mixture of pasta, meat, vegetables, and cheese. The choice of  ingredients are as always, as diverse as the cook.

The pasta, long spaghetti-like hollowed out tubes of Bucatini. Two sauces, a Béchamel sauce and a meat sauce or Ragù.

A generous helping of Parmigiano cheese.

And if that’s not enough to wet your appetite, this decadent mixture is then encased in delicate shell of buttery, flaky, melt in your mouth puff pastry.

A dish by any other name, aka Timpano, the dish that had a starring role in the 1996 movie Big Night, is still Timballo.



  • 1 lb. Ground Beef or Pork;
  • 1 medium onion;
  • 10 cherry tomatoes;
  • 1 small Jar of Peas;
  • 18 oz Bucatini Pasta;
  • 0.85 cup of Bechamel Sauce;
  • 7 oz of Grated Parmigiano Cheese;
  • 10.58 oz of Puff Pastry;
  • 1 egg yolk;
  • olive oil;
  • white wine;
  • butter;
  • salt and pepper



Make the Sauce

  • Chop the onion and halve the tomatoes;
  • Generously coat the bottom of a large pot in Olive Oil;
  • Heat the oil and saute the onions until soft and translucent;
  • Add the ground meat and saute until the meat is cooked
  • Add a few splashes of white wine and the tomatoes
  • Then add salt and pepper to taste
  • Cook on medium-high heat 15 – 20 minutes until the sauce reduces
  • Drain the peas and stir them into the mixture
Making the sauce for the Timballo


Cooking the Bucatini


Adding the Parmigiano to the Bucatini


Making the Timballo mixture
  • While the sauce is cooking, boil the water for the pasta
  • Add salt and cook the pasta al dente or a little less (the pasta will cook more in the oven)
  • Drain the pasta and return it to the pot
  • Add the Béchamel Sauce and mix well
  • Add about half of the Parmigiano cheese and stir through
  • Ladle in the sauce mixture a little at a time, stirring well after each addition of the sauce
Timballo filling in the springform pan lined with puff pastry


Brush the crust with egg yolk


Cooking with Giuseppe, Timballo di Maccheroni alla Napoletana


Cooking with Giuseppe, Timballo di Maccheroni alla Napoletana
  • Grease a large springform pan with butter
  • Line the pan with a puff pastry sheet
  • Fill the pan with the pasta and sauce mixture
  • Sprinkle the remaining Parmigiano cheese on top
  • Top with fresh ground black pepper
  • Cover with the second puff pastry sheet and trim and pinch the edges
  • Brush the top with an egg yolk
  • Lightly cover with baking parchment paper
  • Bake at 356 F  for 25 – 30 minutes
  • Remove the paper and bake about 10 minutes more until the crust is golden brown
  • Remove from the oven and let sit 15 to 20 minutes
  • Carefully remove the Timballo from the pan, slice and serve
Cooking with Giuseppe, Timballo di Maccheroni alla Napoletana

Buon Mangiata!

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