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When one thinks of pasta, it’s interconnected in a saucy symphony of ingredients or layered in a deep casserole. Very few see pasta in a rigid soldier formation, regimented shoulder-to-shoulder in a pressed casing. Yet there’s such a dish out there — pasta pie.

Via: katebartlett652/Flickr

Pasta isn’t the first food that comes to mind with the pie, but in Italy, it is the center stage of many tortas. The most famous is probably timballo, a pasta pie wrapped in pastry, that takes pasta to impressive heights, literally.

Via: josquin2000/Flickr

While origins are murky references to a pastry-encased mound of egg and cream-bound pasta is a celebratory dish in Sicily, Malta, Egypt, and even the Greek Isles. Timballo refers to the mold that the dish is baked in, whose width is supposed to be equal to its height, making it a grand sight compared to other tortas.

Via: Massimo Merlini/iStock The rigged surface of these pastas is perfect to keeping the filling together.

This dish relies on tube-shaped pastas like penne, rigatoni, or ziti, all of which can be pressed tightly together and can slice cleanly.

Via: The Dallas Morning News/YouTube An American news segment showcases the process.

While some dishes have additions of potatoes, vegetables, and even hard-boiled eggs, the traditional base of this dish relies on a meat sauce flavored with classic aromatics like thyme, oregano, and parsley. In Malta and the Greek Isles, cinnamon is added to the sauce, creating a complex warm note.

A simple egg-based flour and water crust is sturdy enough to mold and keep the pasta contained as it bakes in the oven. Modern recipes call for using puff pastry, but it only works if you’re using a flat, not domed, casserole.

Do you think you’d try and make this sort of dish? Would you take the risk and make it?