Here's a spectacular alternative main course for vegetarians at Christmas, a version of the showstopper Sicilian timballo which takes its name from the old French word for kettledrum. In Sicily it's cooked in a mould with the same name and is filled with “anelletti” (a type of pasta), fried eggplants, boiled eggs, peas and cheese.
Like the more traditional roast turkey, it requires some effort but is well worth the effort. Unlike the turkey, it can be prepared a day or two ahead and re-heated.
I've used mushroom & ricotta ravioli in this one but you can use any vegetarian variety.
- Prep Time : 60 minutes
- Cook Time : 60-75 minutes
- Yield : 12
- unbleached plain flour - 500g
- salt - 2 teaspoons
- cold unsalted butter - 250g, cut into small dice
- free range or organic eggs - 2
- iced water - 60ml
- butter - 30g
- onion - 1 small, finely diced
- carrot - 1 small, peeled and finely diced
- celery - 1 small stalk, finely diced
- garlic - 2 cloves, crushed
- red capsicum/pepper - 1 large, roasted, peeled and cut into strips
- dry white wine - 60ml
- Bechamel Sauce
- butter - 60g, melted
- plain flour - 3 tablespoons
- vegetable stock - 250ml (1 cup)
- dried tarragon - 1 -2 teaspoons (optional)
- cream - 250ml (1 cup)
- freshly grated parmesan - 4 tablespoons
- salt and white pepper - to taste
- Swiss Brown or white mushrooms - 200g, sliced and cooked in 1 -2 tablespoons butter
- cooked peas - 3/4 cup
- ravioli - 1Kg, any vegetarian variety, preferably mushroom
For the pastry: put the flour, salt and butter in the food processor and pulse to fine breadcrumbs. Add the eggs through the top then a little of the water. Add just enough water for the dough to begin forming a ball around the blades. Remove from the processor, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.
Roll out two-thirds of the dough to about 4mm thick to line the sides and base of a buttered 23-25cm loose-bottomed cake tin. Line the pastry with foil and dry beans and refrigerate.
Preheat oven to 190C (170C fan-forced). Roll the remaining pastry into a circle 1cm larger than the pie dish (easier if you use the base of a slightly large cake tin to guide you).
Use offcuts to make stars and timpani sticks to decorate the lid. Move carefully to a baking tray lined with baking paper. Brush the lid, stars and timpani sticks with egg wash, made by beating 1 egg together with 1 teaspoon water.
Bake the pie shell and the lid for 15 minutes, reduce oven temperature to 180C (160C fan-forced) and bake 10 minutes longer.
Remove the pie shell from the oven, carefully lift out the foil and beans and return to oven to finish baking - it may take another 10-15 minutes. The pastry lid should be nicely browned by then. Cool both and set aside until needed.
For the Filling: melt the butter in a medium saucepan, add the diced vegetables and garlic and stir to coat with the butter. Lower the heat and continue cooking until vegetables are almost soft. Add the roasted red capsicum strips and stir to combine. Pour in the wine and cook until it evaporates.
For the Bechamel Sauce: melt the butter, stir in the flour and cook over low heat 1 -2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the vegetable stock and tarragon (if using), bring to the boil, then add the cream, stirring until hot, but don't let it boil. Season with salt and pepper. Add the peas, mushrooms, parmesan cheese and red capsicum/diced vegetable mixture. Stir to combine.
Cook the ravioli in plenty of rapidly boiling salted water until they rise to the surface. Test for doneness, then drain and mix the sauce gently through the ravioli.
Spoon into pre-baked pastry shell and cover with the lid.
Reheat in a moderate oven for 15-20 minutes.
To serve, remove the sides of the tin, place the pie on a serving platter and cut into wedges.