This dish is Malta’s answer to pasta pie. It is most likely Sicilian in origin, given the proximity of the two Mediterranean islands, however countless regional versions exist in Italy, where it is known as timballo.

The basis for this home-style pie is macaroni pasta tossed in a stew made from minced meat (very close to bolognese sauce), then encased in puff pastry for an extra-hearty bake. Definitely not the go-to dish if you’re on a low carb diet!

Let’s cook oven baked macaroni and Timpana (Malta’s answer to pasta pie)!

The preparation for this dish can actually give you 2 popular Maltese dishes. Apart from the timpana, the mixture of the pasta and sauce together can help you make oven baked macaroni (Imqarrun il-forn) which is basically the same thing but without the pastry!

INGREDIENTS (This recipe serves: 5-6 people):

  • 500g macaroni
  • 400g mixed mince
  • 200g ricotta
  • Half eggplant chopped
  • 2 chopped carrots
  • Onion chopped fine
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped fine
  • 100g frozen peas
  • 250ml of chicken stock
  • 1 spoon olive oil
  • Half teaspoon curry
  • Canned tomato pulp
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 eggs 
  • 300g cheese grated
  • 800g pie dough

HOW TO PREPARE: 

  • Start by making the sauce. Heat the oil over medium heat and judicious onions and garlic until the onions soften.
  • Add the eggplant and carrots and cook for about 5 minutes. 
  • Add minced meat and continue to cook until browned. Stir occasionally and add a little water if it starts to stick.
  • Add the curry and stir a little, then add the tomato paste and a little pepper and salt. Add the puree and continue to cook.
  • Add the chicken stock and bring to the boil, then lower the fire and leave for about 25 minutes or until the sauce has thickened; stirring occasionally.
  • Add the peas and cook for about another 5 minutes.
  • Remove from fire and cool.
  • Heat the oven to 180 C.
  • Cook the macaroni in a pot with salted water for about 8 minutes, slightly less than the time indicated on the package, so the remaining pasta al dente. Remove the pot from the fire, drain the water and cool the pasta under cold water. 
  • Put the pasta into the pot and mix with the sauce, the ricotta, eggs and 200g grated cheese.

If you want to make oven baked macaroni (Imqarrun il-forn), proceed as follows:

  • Grease the dish with a little butter or oil. Transfer the pasta and cover with the remaining cheese.
  • Cook in the oven for about 40 minutes or until the pasta is done and has a crisp surface.
  • Remove from oven and allow to rest for about 15 minutes before serving.

If you want to make timpana, proceed as follows:

  • Open the dough on a flour surface to a thickness of about 4mm.
  • Grease the dish with a little butter or oil. Coat the bottom and sides of the dish and remove the extra dough.
  • Transfer the pasta and cover with the remaining cheese.
  • Open the remaining dough and cover the surface.
  • Cook in the oven for about 40 minutes until the dough is golden brown.
  • Remove from oven and allow to rest for about 15 minutes before serving.