No matter how you slice them, these tomato recipes are winners (Ventura County Star)

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(Ventura County Star) 

Timballo di Farfalla e Fava (or Butterfly Pasta and Fava Bean Timballo)

A timballo is a combination of ingredients, usually with some kind of pasta, baked in a mold or springform pan and then unmolded. This version is served with a velvety cherry tomato and cream sauce that can be made two days ahead, refrigerated and then reheated. It comes from "Mangia Pasta! Easy to Make Recipes for Company and Every Day" by Mary Ann Esposito (William Morrow, 1998).

For the sauce:

1 1/4 pounds cherry tomatoes

1 tablespoon butter

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

1/2 teaspoon salt

For the timballo:

Olive oil spray

2 large bay leaves

1/4 pound pancetta, diced

4 to 6 quarts water

1 tablespoon salt

2 1/2 cups shelled fresh fava or lima beans

1 pound farfalle (bow-tie pasta)

1/2 pound Fontina cheese, rind removed and cheese diced

One 1/4-pound fresh mozzarella cheese, diced

3 tablespoons half and half

Grinding of white pepper

To make the sauce: Puree the cherry tomatoes in a food processor until smooth. Transfer the mixture to a fine mesh strainer over a bowl. Use a wooden spoon to press the tomato juice into the bowl; discard the seeds and skins. Or, use a food mill. There should be about 2 3/4 cups of tomato juice.

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Pour in the tomato juice and cook, stirring, for a few minutes. Stir in the heavy cream, cheese and salt and continue to stir until the ingredients are well blended. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the sauce, uncovered, until it is reduced by one third and thickens. Keep the sauce covered and warm while the timballo bakes.

To prepare the timballo: Generously spray a 2 1/2 quart ovenproof glass bowl (or porcelain souffle dish or similar container) with olive oil. Position the bay leaves in the base of the bowl and set aside.

Cook the pancetta in a medium nonstick pan over medium heat until the pancetta begins to crisp and give off its fat. Meanwhile, fill a pasta pot with an insert with the water and bring to a boil. Add the salt and fava or lima beans. Cook the beans until tender but not mushy. With a slotted spoon, remove the beans to a bowl, then add them to the pan with the pancetta. (Don't discard the water.) Cook the mixture over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Add the farfalle to the boiling water, stir to prevent them from sticking, cover the pot and bring the water back to a rolling boil. Uncover and cook the farfalle until al dente. Lift the insert and drain the pot, then return the farfalle to the pot. Over very low heat, stir in the pancetta mixture, the cheeses, half and half and white pepper. When all the cheese has melted, transfer the mixture to the glass bowl, pressing down with a wooden spoon to compact it.

Cover the bowl tightly with a sheet of aluminum foil. Bake the timballo until browned on the bottom, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove the bowl from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes.

To unmold, remove the aluminum foil, place a serving dish over the top of the mold and invert to unmold. Serve the timballo cut into wedges with sauce on the side, or drizzle sauce over and/or around the timballo on its serving platter.

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