There is a Turkish takeout restaurant in a strip mall on Long Island that makes the most divine layered lamb with lashings of sharp feta or goat cheese cream sauce and sweet-smoky roasted vegetables that I have been lusting after lately. I also have been paging through a cookbook I heisted from my sister, Cucina & Famiglia, written by Joan Tucci (Stanley Tucci’s mama) and was reminded of the spectacular timpano made famous in the movie “Big Night”. This dish is the love child of the Turkish take out dish and that movie. As you can see, this recipe is incredibly long but each component can be completed ahead of time and assembled and baked.
SERVES 8-12 SLICES
Lamb and Vegetable/Cheese Mixture:
- 1 pound ground lamb
- 1/2 smallish onion, finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- juice of half a lemon
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 red pepper, seeded and diced
- 1 zucchini, diced (I don’t bother peeling it)
- 1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt
- pepper to taste
- 1 (15) ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
- handful of parsley, chopped
- zest of a lemon
- 1 whole wheat or white pita, lightly toasted and chopped
- 1 1/2 cup full fat yogurt
- 4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled or chopped
- In a mixing bowl combine the lamb, onion, garlic, salt, cumin, coriander, black pepper, and lemon juice in a bowl and mix with your hands until combined. Form into walnut sized meatballs.
- Meatballs can be pan-fried in some olive oil over medium-high heat until just cooked through or baked in your oven at 350F for about 20 minutes. Let cool and cut meatballs in half.
- In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat and cook pepper and zucchini with the salt and pepper until the moisture is released and evaporates and the vegetables are crisp tender. Add in the chickpeas, parsley, lemon zest, and pita and stir into coat. Set to the side to cool.
- In a food processor blend the yogurt and feta together until smooth. Mix into the vegetable mixture and set aside.
Eggplant and Assembly/Baking of Timpano:
- 2 pounds eggplant, cut into 1/2″ pieces lengthwise (I don’t bother peeling)
- olive oil to brush eggplant with
- 2 whole wheat or regular pocket pitas, split into two halves
- Salt and drain eggplant in colander. Wipe excess moisture an salt off and brush each piece with olive oil on both sides. Broil eggplant for about 5-7 minutes per side. Reserve eggplant until ready to assemble.
- ASSEMBLY & BAKING OF TIMPANO: Preheat oven to 375F. Lightly oil the bottom of the 9″ springform pan. Line the bottom and sides of pan with overlapping pieces of eggplant (you may have some leftover).
- Assemble cut meatballs over the surface of the eggplant. Pour the vegetable, chickpea, cheese, and pita bread mixture over the lamb and spread it evenly about. Place the 4 halves of pita over the top of the vegetable/cheese mixture (you may have to cut a few of them to make them fit).
- Cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 20 minutes. Let cool for a bit before cutting into. Serve with your choice of sauce. I think it would go well with the winning Yogurt & Spinach Dip by Shayma.