Asparagus and Parma ham timbale
- Serves: 4
- Preparation time: 15 minutes
- Cooking time: 45 minutes
- Total time: 1 hour
- 700g/1½lb Asparagus spears, prepared
- 1 wholemeal loaf, thickly sliced
- 200ml/6¾fl. oz Double cream
- 2 Eggs
- 75g/2½oz Parmesan, grated
- 75g/2½oz Butter
- 60g/2oz Parma ham
Timbale is a french word, and means that it's food cooked within a pan. In this case, a loaf pan, and with a bit of care this dish can look really impressive, and is still unusual enough to really get the conversation started! When I serve this, I tend to cut some thin wafers of courgette, and grill them on a baking tray with a decent pinch of salt and olive oil and serve on the side – the saltiness helps cut through the cheese flavours of the timbale.
Try to pick a good quality wholemeal bread, sliced thickly, as it's a bit more robust. If you can't find Parma ham, then any good salted ham – such as Serrano ham – would make an excellent choice.
Cut the crusts off the bread, to leave nice neat squares.
Wash the asparagus and snap off the woody bases.
- Preheat your oven to 200ºC/400ºF or Gas mark 6.
- Melt the butter in a small pan, and use half to grease a loaf tin (Mine was about 23cm/9in by 12cm/5in), put the rest aside as you will add it to the filling.
- Line the sides and bottom of the loaf tin with the slices of bread – overlapping them slightly.
- For the mix, beat two eggs in a jug, then add the parmesan, double cream and the remaining butter.
- Lay a few stalks of asparagus inside the tin pour over some of the mix, and a few roughly torn strips of Parma ham. Try to alternate the way the asparagus points so one end of the timbale isn't all the stems!
- Repeat the adding layers of asparagus, mix, and Parma ham until the mix and Parma ham is used up – that was about three quarters of the tin in my case.
- Line the top with some overlapping slices of bread, and place in the oven to cook. If the top starts to burn at any stage, cover it with tin foil.
- Cook in the oven for about 45 minutes, and remove it and let it rest inside the tin for a few minutes.
- Cut the crusted peaks of the bread away from the sides (If any) so the top is quite flat and tidy.
- Put a serving plate face down over the top of the loaf tin and quickly turn the plate, and the dish upside down.
- Remove the tin and the timbale should have slid out neatly.
- Let it rest a minute more, then cut it into thick slices and serve, either on its own, or alongside some grilled vegetables.