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My Grandmother's Italian Timbale Recipe: Sartu di Riso

Updated on November 3, 2011
Family favorite: Sartu di Riso. I request it every year for my birthday.
Family favorite: Sartu di Riso. I request it every year for my birthday. | Source

Neapolitan Sartù

My grandmother says that this was her and her siblings' favorite dish when they were growing up in the country outside of Naples. It is still a family favorite, and she makes it for me every year on my birthday. This year, I stayed in the kitchen to cook with her and finally learned the family recipe.

A timbale is like an Italian rice casserole. This one originated in Naples during the French occupation. The Italian name is their version of the French word for it, "sûr tout"-- above all.


1 one-pound box of Uncle Ben's Rice (converted long-grained rice). Any type of rice may be substituted, including risotto, but this is the type that my grandmother says tastes best.

1 quart of chicken stock (or 1 quart of water and 4 chicken bouillon cubes)

4 eggs, beaten

1/2 cup grated Romano cheese

4 cups tomato sauce

1 lb. ground beef, formed into little meat balls

1 small ball of mozzarella, diced. Add more mozzarella if you want a cheesier casserole.


1. Preheat oven to 350°. Butter the inside of a large casserole dish.

2. Cook the rice in the chicken stock. Basically, just follow the package instructions, substituting the stock for water. Let cool completely.

3. Add all ingredients and 2 cups of the tomato sauce. Stir together well.

4. Pour mixture into casserole dish.

5. Spread a thin layer of sauce over the top, saving some for later.

6. Sprinkle with Romano cheese.

7. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until it starts to bubble around the edges.

8. Let cool for 30 minutes. Cut into squares.

9. Serve with the remainder of the sauce and extra cheese on the table to be added if desired.

Serves 8 to 12, depending on portions.

Side Notes

-Please note that this is a family recipe, so we have never used exact measurements. I tried my best to make it as precise as I could, but if you have any comments, criticism, or suggestion, please let me know so I can make the recipe better.

-I have also had sartù with chicken livers, sausage, and peas. Some people coat the outside of the pan with rice, fill it with the sauce, meat, and cheese, then put more rice on top. They bake it and turn it upside down, creating a sort of rice and meatball pie. Don't be afraid to experiment!

-Fun Fact: In the movie "Big Night" the owners of an Italian restaurant drive themselves crazy preparing for a big visit from Louis Prima, and cook up some sartù di riso in the process.

Photo from the fun foodie movie "Big Night".
Photo from the fun foodie movie "Big Night".


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    • VVanNess profile image

      Victoria Van Ness 4 years ago from Fountain, CO

      Yum! This looks delicious. I've been looking for something new to make for my husband for dinner. This sounds amazing and just night have to be that dish. I'll have to let you know how it goes!

    • stephaniedas profile image

      Stephanie Das 6 years ago from Miami, US

      Thank you, I hope you get a chance to test it out.

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 6 years ago from America

      This sounds so good. Will have to keep this recipe in my recipe folder. Great Hub.

    • stephaniedas profile image

      Stephanie Das 6 years ago from Miami, US

      I swear its not very difficult and its really good. Anyway, its hard to mess up sauce and cheese...I hope you enjoy. Thanks for the comments.

    • Jyoti Patil profile image

      Jyoti Patil 6 years ago from Mumbai

      WOw, dats some real nice recipe. I am gonna try it but I am afraid I am gonna mess it

    • Brett.Tesol profile image

      Brett Caulton 6 years ago from Thailand

      Looks good! I think I have had something similar in an Italian restaurant and it was pretty tasty :-).

      Thanks for sharing the secret recipe lol ... voted up and useful.

    • stephaniedas profile image

      Stephanie Das 6 years ago from Miami, US

      Thanks for the hub love! It really isn't as tough as it looks, and it's delicious, real comfort food. Just take your time and contact me if you have any questions. I will probably have to ask my grandmother...

    • Fullerman5000 profile image

      Ryan Fuller 6 years ago from Louisiana, USA

      I want to try this, but i would probably screw it up. This looks incredible. i will give this a shot. I love Italian food. Thanks for sharing this delicious recipe. Voted up and voted useful. great work.