Big Night Timpano

by Kristina Sloggett

in baking, Dinner, recipes

I have been wanting to make this masterpiece for years.

When I first discovered Food ‘n Flix, it was like a tumble of dominoes – I decided to participate, I signed up to host a month, I knew I would pick one of my very favorites – Big Night, and there was no doubt I would take on the timpano.

If you have seen the movie, you know the timpano is to be the main attraction to the evening – they make two of these timpanos, saving one for the guest of honor, Louis Prima!

This was a two day process. The first day I prepared all the sauces, a red, a white and a green, with the thought that I would layer it in the colors of the Italian flag! I also boiled eggs as that was part of the recipe in the movie. Jason made an Italian meatball.

The second day, I cooked the pasta for the filling, prepared a pizza dough for the crust, assembled and cooked.


makes 1 large dome – serves 12-24, depending on serving size

1 large oven proof bowl (I used an 8 quart stainless steel)
2 portions pizza dough (or use fresh pasta)
2 pounds cooked ziti, divided into thirds
1 cup basil pesto
2 cups fresh spinach
1 1/2 cups Alfredo sauce/white sauce
3 hard boiled eggs
2 cups marinara sauce
meatballs (optional, or sub half faux balls as I did – making half vegetarian, half for Jason)

Step by step:

Generously butter inside of large ovenproof bowl.

Roll one large circle using both portions of pizza/pasta dough, or roll two separate circles.

Line buttered bowl with dough, leaving extra dough hanging off bowl or as a second piece to add later.

Combine 1/3 of cooked ziti with basil pesto and spinach – add to the bowl as the first layer.

Combine another 1/3 of cooked ziti with Alfredo sauce, add to bowl as second layer.

Cut hard boiled eggs in half, press into this middle layer, the white layer. 

Combine the final 1/3 cooked ziti with the red sauce, add to bowl as third and final layer.

Add meatballs to this final layer.

Fold over dough/add second circle of dough and seal. 

Here is the visual step by step:

animated gif maker

Preheat oven to 350. Cover with tin foil, bake covered for 45 minutes. Remove tin foil and continue to bake another 45-60 minutes.

*Important! Let sit for 30 minutes to an hour before cutting!*

When ready to remove from bowl, place serving platter/dish on top of bowl and flip over! It should come right out if you followed the other very important step of buttering the bowl VERY well. 

Store remaining portions covered in refrigerator, reheating in oven is preferred (the crust crisps in the oven).

Aside from removing the meatballs from my portion, this was amazing! I am so happy the three distinct colors turned out, and having three different flavors was wonderful! I can share the recipes to any and all of my sauces and the meatball.

I plan on making another one of these as soon as I can – this time I will use pasta dough as the shell/crust, and Jason and I have many ideas for delicious flavor combinations. This really is an easy recipe, it just takes many steps and ideally, a couple of days.

I could not have done this without Jason – he helped roll and stretch the pizza dough, and helped me wrestle it into the bowl and more importantly, keep it there.

The day it was in the oven, I had sent out a tweet, something about “sending up a small prayer and crossing my fingers that the Project In My Oven turns out!” … and almost immediately a friend emailed asking about a bun in the oven!?

…so I had to quickly amend that tweet to say that the project was in the literal oven, and it was indeed food 😉


{ 72 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lisa B April 12, 2012 at 5:13 am

I can only imagine how wonderful this tastes! What a fabulous recipe!


2 spabettie April 13, 2012 at 9:17 am

I know, it was delicious – I am already anticipating another – this one will be vegan and I can eat it all! 😀 well, I won’t eat it all, but you know… 😉


3 Tina Marie April 12, 2012 at 5:16 am

This is a masterpiece! I can see why this has been on your list of recipes to prepare for years. Impressive!!


4 spabettie April 13, 2012 at 9:16 am

thanks, Tina – this was SO fun!


5 Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table April 12, 2012 at 5:31 am

I am so far beyond impressed with you right now. The color layers are fantastic. Gorgeous dish!!!


6 spabettie April 13, 2012 at 9:16 am

thank you, Laura! 😀


7 Kath (My Funny Little Life) April 12, 2012 at 5:50 am


I didn’t even know something like this existed! The Italian flag colors are a wonderful idea. Chapeau, Kris!


8 spabettie April 13, 2012 at 9:15 am

I’m glad you liked the flag idea – weeee! This was a fun project for me, and having it end up tasty as well? bonus!


9 jobo April 12, 2012 at 5:58 am

LOL – literal bun in the oven 😉 Two day process? You have so much more patience than me! that IS a masterpiece, to Tina’s comment!!


10 spabettie April 13, 2012 at 9:14 am

hee – yep, bun in the oven! 😀 I love projects like this, and doing it over two days, having it all prepped, gives me that patience 😉


11 Cara April 12, 2012 at 7:38 am

Duuuuudddeeeeee, putting two of my favorite foods {pasta and bread} all in one meal sounds like THE most beautiful creation known to man :) I am currently eating my screen but all I am tasting is dust :(


12 spabettie April 13, 2012 at 9:12 am

so the screen is clean now, yes? 😉 because I am making a vegan timpano next… I have so many exciting flavors planned for it! 😀


13 HappyAsh December 12, 2013 at 11:54 pm

Did you ever make the vegan timpano?
I’d love to hear about, and see what replacements you came up with. I’m dying to try it myself.


14 Steph@stephsbitebybite April 12, 2012 at 8:10 am

WHOA!!! Is this thing for real?! I am drooling over this incredible dinner! (How do you make your pictures do that…where they move through each step on one frame?)


15 spabettie April 13, 2012 at 9:12 am

it IS for real, Steph!! you need to make one! 😀 that step by step is a gif :)


16 Steph@stephsbitebybite April 13, 2012 at 9:17 am

Hiw do I get it LOL I’ve seen a few other bloggers using it and I think it’s so cool!


17 spabettie April 13, 2012 at 9:21 am

just google search gif maker – there are many of them, you just upload the photos in the order you want them to go! :)


18 Tommy April 12, 2012 at 8:48 am

girl you know you impress me, but this is downright AMAZING


19 spabettie April 13, 2012 at 9:11 am

thanks, Tom – coming from you I know that is a huge compliment, I am flattered, dear friend!


20 Tommy April 12, 2012 at 8:48 am

marry me?


21 spabettie April 13, 2012 at 9:10 am



22 Averie @ Averie Cooks April 12, 2012 at 9:02 am

The layers are gorgeous! not sure how you did the first pic, but the layers, the close up, the color gradient, the pale/sea green in the background (if you pasted that color in or if that’s really the background…I wanted to learn Photoshop so I could play around but it’s wayyyyy too much for me. Lol)..but beautiful pics & recipe!


23 spabettie April 13, 2012 at 9:09 am

thanks, Averie! I used to be a graphic designer for the racquet club I played tennis with, and used photoshop a lot then, but haven’t used it on any photos for this website… this really was just the lighting and the background! :)


24 Noelle (@singerinkitchen) April 12, 2012 at 12:12 pm

You are pretty cool! Timpanos are so much fun and YES, I have seen that movie. I liked it alot. Anything food related in a movie is a go for me! I have a timpano with eggplant instead of dough.


25 spabettie April 13, 2012 at 9:07 am

oh, eggplant timpano sounds fantastic – you just line the bowl with thin slices? great idea!


26 Noelle (@singerinkitchen) April 13, 2012 at 9:17 am
27 spabettie April 13, 2012 at 9:23 am

thanks for sharing, Noelle – it looks great! seeing it now I DO remember watching Giada make this! I may have to give it a try sometime…


28 ¡Yo Soy Liz! April 12, 2012 at 3:25 pm

I love Big Night! I’ve got to make a vegan timpano soon!


29 spabettie April 13, 2012 at 9:06 am

yep, that’s next on my list too. I wanted to make a traditional one first, and most of it went to my meat eating family, so… 😉


30 Nora @ Natural Noshing April 12, 2012 at 5:37 pm

WOWza! Are you kidding me? This is fantastic – I need to make this masterpiece! BTW, how can you go wrong with bread and pasta?!?!?


31 spabettie April 13, 2012 at 9:04 am

Nora, you DO need to make this – it was really fun and oh MAN was it tasty!


32 Tiffany April 12, 2012 at 8:07 pm

Holy cannoli–my mouth is watering! I had to do a double take because I thought it was stuffed with meat at first.


33 spabettie April 13, 2012 at 9:04 am

holy cannoli is right – you should try one of these, Tiffany, it’s SO fun to make! :)


34 Ruby April 13, 2012 at 12:29 am

Well now THAT is impressive. Brava! Also love the flash slide show with step-by-steps.


35 spabettie April 13, 2012 at 8:51 am

BRAVA! thank you, Ruby – it was SO fun!!


36 lindsay April 13, 2012 at 4:42 am

LOL, it is a literal BUN in the OVEN. OH and i want it, now! i think james would be in heaven. is it worth it?


37 spabettie April 13, 2012 at 8:51 am

it IS SO worth it!! and it’s really fun, just prep everything ahead of time and it really isn’t difficult at all… grease/butter the bowl VERY good so it doesn’t stick, and oh, YES you should make one for James!


38 Javelin Warrior April 13, 2012 at 5:23 am

I have never seen or heard of timpano before, but I am LOVING this dish. What an amazing way to have pasta! I am featuring this post in today’s Friday Food Fetish roundup (with a link-back and attribution), but please let me know if you have any objections. It’s a pleasure to be following your creations…


39 spabettie April 13, 2012 at 8:42 am

I have no objection, thank you SO much – I am honored to be among so many stunning creations! this round up is especially delicious looking! and I have to agree, what an amazing way to have pasta – this was fun and I cannot wait to make another!


40 Heather @girlichef April 13, 2012 at 7:14 am

This is SO AWESOME! Seriously, I’m in love. I want that bun in MY oven ;P . I don’t think I’m going to be able to stop thinking about this until I’ve made one. It’s such a masterpiece!


41 spabettie April 13, 2012 at 8:22 am

see, you know what I mean then… I really have been wanting to make one of these since I first learned about them, many years ago. they really are fun to prepare, if you have a full day and start early or a couple days time… 😀 Heather, get this bun in your oven! 😉


42 Rowan April 13, 2012 at 11:17 am

This looks delightful! I’ll certainly be giving it a try.


43 Allie April 14, 2012 at 3:20 am

Wow, this looks gorgeous and intense! And like the best sort of project to have in the oven…I hear eating tasty food is much less responsibility than taking care of a baby ;D


44 spabettie April 15, 2012 at 7:40 am

haa haa, you definitely have that right, I’m sure! 😉


45 Rose April 14, 2012 at 11:36 am

This looks absolutely delicious!!! I copied recipe and would love to try it!
Since I am Italian it reminds me of when I was little and Grandma made a pizza pie!


46 spabettie April 15, 2012 at 7:35 am

hi Rose, I hope that you do – it’s a big project with many steps, but not difficult and SO worth it! :)


47 Lora April 15, 2012 at 4:59 pm

This is fantastic! I love The Big Night. Haven’t seen it in years. Thanks for the reminder.


48 spabettie April 16, 2012 at 8:50 am

such a great movie, right? :)


49 nat@thesweetslife April 15, 2012 at 7:01 pm

talk about gorgeous food! i am so impressed, this is a work of art!!


50 spabettie April 16, 2012 at 8:50 am

thank you, Natalie! <3


51 bilbaobab April 17, 2012 at 1:46 am

yum this looks delish!!! and I LOVE that movie!!! thanks for sharing!


52 amy@currylime April 17, 2012 at 11:28 am

This looks silly good!! Not usually my style of cooking, but I can’t wait to try it. Thanks for the fun recipe :-)


53 spabettie April 18, 2012 at 7:45 am

Amy, silly good is right! we rarely eat this way either, but… it had to be done 😉


54 Jana @ delectablymine April 17, 2012 at 1:25 pm

What a fun idea, I’ve never seen anything like it. It looks amazing and I’m sure it tasted that way too!


55 spabettie April 18, 2012 at 7:44 am

thanks Jana, it sure did! it was great fun to make too.


56 Melissa April 17, 2012 at 2:17 pm

This is amazing. I have been sitting here almost drooling and trying to think of a special occasion when I could indulge and make this for myself.

Then, I just thought… maybe I could make it now with spaghetti squash instead. Then it wouldn’t be quite as unhealthy. I think I am going to try that and see how it works out. At least it will hold me over until I have a reason to treat myself to pizza and pasta in the same meal!! Yum!


57 spabettie April 18, 2012 at 7:39 am

I was thinking that too, using spaghetti squash for the filling! Someone else in the comments left a link to her recipe, she uses zucchini strips as the outer ‘shell’ instead of dough! many possibilities for this one!


58 Melissa April 23, 2012 at 7:04 pm

I had to tell you that we made this with spaghetti squash tonight and it is amazing! It’s not very heavy, which means we can have a larger portion! We just had to make it more flat in a pie pan to keep in from mixing all together, and we added some mozzarella to it as well. Success!


59 Nicole April 18, 2012 at 3:21 pm

This is so cool! I’d never heard of that before, and couldn’t really figure out what it was when I saw it on photo grazing, but it just looked so…interesting. Very neat. Nice job!


60 spabettie April 18, 2012 at 9:59 pm

ha, I know Nicole, it has had some funny reception around the web, for sure!

I had to attempt it at least once, although to be quite honest, I can’t wait to make another one. Healthier this time, and with foods I will eat (even though I do not eat meat, I wanted to make a more traditional recipe the first time – I gave most of it away to family).


61 vic@cakebook April 19, 2012 at 8:05 am

oh my!
I’ve never heard of a timpano but suddenly I want to know ALL about it… weird but good weird!


62 spabettie April 19, 2012 at 7:41 pm

hi Vic! it’s definitely a decadence not for every day, but makes a fun project!


63 Eliot April 22, 2012 at 12:35 pm

I had never heard of timpano either until I watched this unbelievably fantastic film. (I can’t thank you enough for recommending it!) You are a master to have tackled this! Thanks for hosting and I will be shooting you an email soon with my post.


64 Bee (Quarter Life Crisis Cuisine) April 26, 2012 at 8:46 am

I just LOVE Big Night! I did a whole paper on it in college. I’ve always wanted to try a timpano, and now that I can actually cook I think I’ll make it someday!


65 spabettie April 26, 2012 at 5:46 pm

what a fun subject to write a paper on – (you should publish it…?) :) definitely make the timpano – not difficult at all, just many steps!


66 Deb in Hawaii April 27, 2012 at 12:10 pm

I’m so impressed that you made the timpano. I thought about it but decided it was too much work for me! 😉 It looks fabulous–love the layers. Thanks again for hosting F’nF this month and selecting one of my very favorite movies. Off to visit the other participants now.


67 spabettie April 27, 2012 at 3:44 pm

the timpano was SO fun, and oh so tasty. we look forward to making another…


68 Sarah C April 28, 2012 at 11:42 am

Thanks so much for hosting! This post is what brought FnF to my attention, and Pinterest brought me here. How brave to do the famous timpano – it looks delish!


69 Diana January 13, 2013 at 11:40 am

This is a great recipe, I made it and we like.
Well explained, beautiful and delicious – I recommend
Thanks so much, Diana


70 Kristina Sloggett January 13, 2013 at 10:09 pm

hi Diana! these are so fun to make, right? yours looks beautiful!


71 Ricki February 1, 2013 at 4:45 am

Big Night is one of my all-time favorite movies!! And of course I was totally fascinated by the timpano, too. Yours looks amazing!


72 Kristina Sloggett February 1, 2013 at 12:55 pm

thanks, Ricki! Big Night is a good one, right? One of my favorites too – it never gets old. We had SO much fun making this – I need to do it again!


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