Timballo is wonderful cold weather comfort dish. Timballo is also a traditional Italian dish, typically served at holiday times. It is usually an hours long process to make, but I have tweaked the recipe to use pantry ingredients and fridge or freezer staples to speed up the process. If you have left over spaghetti sauce or jarred red sauce, you will have everything that you need at home. A perfect Sunday afternoon recipe that you can prepare in well under an hour! It is beautiful to look at and delicious to eat.

Timballo, An Italian Layered Pasta Dish

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Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Italian
Prep Time: 35 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Degree of Difficulty : Moderately difficult
Servings: 8 people
Tip : You have to be a little organized so that you tackle the cooking of the pasta at one time one after the other, and the microwaving of the vegtables, again one after the other. Then just line up all of the ingredients and create the delicious layers with everything at hand.


Pasta Layer

  • 2 cups meat sauce homemade or jarred can be used.
  • 1/2 tsp crushed chili flakes
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric optional
  • 1/2 cup grated Pecorino-Romano or Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups cooked pasta such as penne or fussili or what ever pasta shape you have on hand

Couscous Layer

  • 2 cups cooked Israeli couscous
  • 1/2 cup store bought pesto
  • 8-10 stalks asparagus cut in 1-inch pieces
  • 1 cup frozen peas defrosted
  • 1/2 cup grated Pecorino-Romano or Parmesan cheese

Lasagna Layer

  • 4 dried pasta sheets broken in half and cooked
  • 2 roasted red bell peppers packed in water and sliced into 1/2" slices
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cups baby spinach, wilted
  • 1 whole mozzarella ball sliced, or grated mozzarella
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • kosher salt to taste


  • Gather all ingredients before starting the recipe.

Base Pasta Layer

  • Combine meat sauce with crushed chili flakes, turmeric and grated cheese.
  • Place sauce on medium low heat, stir to combine, and gently simmer while preparing the pasta.
  • Pre heat oven to 350°F.


  • Cook couscous according to package directions, when cooked, drain, rinse under cold water, drain again and set aside.
  • Slice asparagus into 1 inch pieces, place in a microwave safe dish, rinse under cold water, drain, then cover with cling wrap. Microwave on high for 1-2 minutes, drain and combine with defrosted frozen peas.
  • Combine couscous with the pesto and add the asparagus, peas and grated cheese.


  • Bring water to a boil in a medium sauce pan, add a generous amount of kosher salt. When the water is boiling, add the pasta and cook for 10-15 minutes or until al dente. Strain, and mix the drained pasta with the meat sauce.
  • In the same sauce pan, add water and bring to a boil again, season with kosher salt and add lasagna, cook for about 10-15 minutes or until al dente, drain, return the lasagna to the sauce pan and cover the pasta with cold water.
  • Place baby spinach on a microwave safe dish, rinse under cold water, cover with cling wrap, and microwave on high for 1-2 minutes, or until the spinach has just barely wilted. Remove cling wrap, drain spinach and set aside.


  • Spray an 8x8 baking dish with vegetable spray.
  • Add about 1/3 of the meat/pasta mixture on the bottom of the baking dish and flatten the layer.
  • Add about 1/3 of the couscous mixture and spread over the meat/pasta mixture. Flatten the couscous.
  • Add a layer of the cooled cooked lasagna and cover with half of the wilted spinach, half of the roasted red pepper strips and half of the sliced mozzarella slices. Drizzle with half of the olive oil and season with kosher salt. Drizzle remaining olive oil over the next layer of lasagna.
  • Repeat all of the layers, finishing with the meat/pasta mixture and then sprinkle with parmesan cheese.


  • Place baking dish on an aluminum foil lined cookie sheet and bake for 30 minutes in a 350°F oven, or until the top is golden and the cheese is melted and bubbling.
  • Allow to rest for 5 minutes before slicing.

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