Christmas is a time for special foods to be presented with love to our family and guests.  One such recipe from Paolo of Quatro Fromaggio and Other Disgraces On The Menu, is absolutely perfect for ‘wowing’ everyone on this festive holiday (misspelling of Quattro Formaggi is intentional in his blog title).  I know that when he sent his post, recipe, and photos for a guest post, I was certainly amazed!  I have been following Paolo’s food blog for quite some time now and every recipe is so authentically Italian and delicious!  I simply had to ask him if he would write a guest post for Christmas.  Even though it is a super busy time for everyone, Paolo was kind enough to put extra time into this extra special recipe for us.  I know that you will agree!

Grazie e’ brava, Paolo!

Paolo offered a bit of insight on how he was drawn to blogging in the following words:

“Since I moved to Canada from Italy in 2001, I have been bombarded with misconceptions of Italian food: from misspelled and mispronounced Italian words (“brushetta” anyone?), to “Italian” dishes that don’t actually exist in Italy (try ordering pepperoni pizza in Rome!).  One day I decided that it was time to do something about it and I started a blog.

At first I tried to fix the misconceptions by explaining them (for instance, that an espresso should not fill up the entire cup, and that “panini” is already a plural). Later on, however, my focus shifted more to the origins of the ingredients and the cultural differences between Italy and North America.  As I kept blogging I got to know many other bloggers who share my objective:  preserving authentic Italian food around the world.  In 2011, I created an award to recognize their authenticity – The Cannolo Award – which has been very successful.

The recipe that I choose for this guest post is an Italian classic adapted from Silver Spoon’s “Pasticcio di Tagliatelle”.  In Italian cuisine, a “pasticcio” (sometimes referred to as “timballo”) is a preparation in which several ingredients (including pasta or rice, meats and sauces) are baked in the oven within a pastry shell or a pie crust.  The resulting dish, which looks plain on the outside but reveals rich fillings, was invented in the 1700’s by palace chefs precisely to surprise and delight their noble guests.  Today, pasticcio is still considered a dish for special occasions, including the Christmas meal.”

Tagliatelle Timbale with Wine Gravy

Ingredients for 3-4 servings

  • 2 Tbsp (30 g) Unsalted butter (including some for greasing) 
  • 7 oz (200 g) Pizza dough (which can be bought in some bakeries or specialty stores) 
  • Some Flour (for dusting) 
  • 4 oz (120 g) Fresh spinach 
  • 6 oz (170 g) Cremini mushrooms 
  • ½ oz (14 g) Dried Porcini mushrooms 
  • ¼ cup White wine 
  • 1 Tbsp (15 ml) Milk 
  • 2 Tbsp (30 ml) Heavy cream 
  • 4 oz (120 g) Tagliatelle pasta (either fresh or dried) 
  • 1 Egg 
  • ¼ cup Parmigiano Reggiano 
  • Some Salt and pepper 


  • Rehydrate the dried mushrooms in cold water for at least ½ hr. 
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil. 
  • Preheat the oven at 350°F (180°C). 
  • Grease the oven-proof dish with butter. 
  • In a large pan, roast the fresh mushrooms in butter for 5 min at high heat.
  • Add the rehydrated mushroom, cook for another 2 min at medium heat (a1).
  • Add the wine (a2) and allow it to boil until it evaporates. 
  • Cook the fresh spinach in a covered pot (without any added water) at medium heat for 5 min (a3). 
  • When the spinach is ready, squeeze out as much water as possible and chop. 
  • Add the spinach to the pan (a4). 
  • Add milk and cream (a5), adjust salt and pepper. 
  • Cook the tagliatelle in plenty of salted water for 2/3 of their standard cooking time. 
  • Drain the tagliatelle and them to the pan. Incorporate gently (a6). 

  • Roll out the dough to the thickness of 1/8 inch (3 mm).
  • Line the (greased) oven proof dish with the dough (b1).
  • Spoon in the filling (b2).
  • Beat the eggs with the Parmesan.
  • Pour the mix uniformly over the filling (b3).
  • Fold the pizza dough fully wrapping it around the filling (b4).
  • Bake for 30-40 minutes at 350°F (180°C) until the top is well browned.

Wine Gravy:  Ingredients for 3-4 servings

  • 1 Tbsp (15 g) Unsalted butter 
  • 1 Tbsp (15 g) All purpose flour 
  • ½ tsp Vegetable stock extract 
  • 1 cup Milk 
  • ¼ cup White wine


  • Warm up the butter in a small pan (c1) at medium heat until it barely melts.
  • Add the wine (c2) and the vegetable stock extract (c3). Let it reduce. 
  • Add the flour (c4), then mix until a ball of dough forms. 
  • Add a small amount of milk and whip until you get a creamy texture (c5).
  • Gradually add the rest of the milk, as you continue whipping. 
  • While stirring constantly, boil for at least 2 minutes until the mix thickens (c6). 

  • Pour the gravy in the bowls, then place a slice of timbale in each bowl and serve immediately. 


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