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Corn and Zucchini Timbale With Ancho Chile Sauce

Corn and Zucchini Timbale With Ancho Chile Sauce
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WebMD Recipe from

Sometimes you make something and you just say, “Wow, that is tasty.” Maybe it isn’t the prettiest thing you’ve ever made, or the most refined, or the most complex. But it might be one of the tastiest. This happened to me last night and I’m glad that we had friends on hand to share it with us. This is one tasty timbale.

What is a timbale? The best description I can come up with is that it is a crustless quiche but made in a round ramekin and then unmolded. Two of the cookbooks that I have from the Greens restaurant in San Francisco (The Greens Cookbook and Fields of Greens) have recipes for timbales and I have been tempted for years to make them. I always thought of them as client worthy meals but was almost positive that this is the kind of thing that needs to be served very soon after coming out of the oven. I wasn’t sure how they would hold up after a several-hour waiting period.

We had three couples over for dinner and I decided it was time to timbale. For some reason, I have only 7 – 1 cup ramekins although I know I bought 8, so I decided to make this in a 2 quart soufflé dish and just scoop it out. Yes, I lost something in the presentation but it was really not worth a last minute run to a kitchen store to buy an 8th ramekin. (And yes, I did think about doing that.)

The flavor here is incredible. I mean, how can you go wrong with zucchini, corn, herbs, and sharp white cheddar? But what really made the dish was the sauce. I had my doubts about this blood red chili tomato sauce. I made it the day before and was a little concerned about it being bitter. Turning to Twitter, I learned from the ever knowledgeable Chef Gwen that I had probably over toasted the ancho chilies. Her advice was to add a pinch or two of sugar and just a splash of apple cider vinegar. That did the trick. The sauce has an incredible smokiness and piquancy – a perfect foil for the richness and sweetness of the timbale. All in all? Very tasty.

Adapted from The Greens Cookbook


  • 1 pound
  • 2 tablespoons
  • 1 small
    yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cups
    yellow corn kernels, about 4 ears
  • 4 tablespoons
    parsley, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons
    cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup
    white wine
  • eggs
  • 2/3 cup
    heavy cream
  • 3 ounces
    sharp cheddar cheese, grated, or 1 cup
  • 1/4 teaspoon
    cayenne pepper
  • 3/4 cup
    bread crumbs
  • 2 pounds
    tomatoes, fresh or canned
  • 20 large
    garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 3 to 4 
    ancho chiles
  • 2 teaspoons
    dried oregano
    Tabasco sauce, to taste, optional
  1. Grate the zucchini by hand suing the large holes on a grater, or process it in a food processor.  Place in a colander and toss it with salt.  Let it sit for half an hour, then squeeze out the water, either using your hands or putting the mass in a clean kitchen towel and twisting hard several times.
  2. Melt the butter, add the onion, followed a minute later with the corn, parsley, and cilantro.  Stir together and cook over medium heat for a minute and then add the zucchini and wine, lower the heat, and cook covered for about 3 minutes.  Remove the lid and cook off any remaining liquid.  Taste and season with salt, if needed.
  3. Beat the eggs, whisk in the cream and add the vegetables and cheese.  Season the mixture with the cayenne and Tabasco sauce if using, and taste again for salt. Preheat the oven to 325°F.  Generously butter 1-cup-capacity ramekins, or a large mold, and coat them with the bread crumbs.  Mix any extra bread crumbs into the custard; then ladle it into the ramekins, making sure there is an even distribution of vegetables.  Set the ramekins in a deep pan and add enough hot water to come halfway up the sides.  Bake until the tops puff up and are browned, about 1 hour.  Prepare the Ancho Chile Sauce while the custards are baking.  Take the custards out of the oven and let them sit for a few minutes, then unmold them.  Serve them top side up on a plate with the sauce spooned around or over them.
  4. Ancho Chile Sauce
    Makes about 3 cups
  5. To count down on time, I used two 15 ounce cans of Muir Glen’s fire roasted tomatoes instead of grilling or broiling as described below.
  6. 2 pounds tomatoes, fresh or canned
    20 large garlic cloves, unpeeled
    3 to 4 ancho chiles
    2 tsp. dried oregano
  7. If possible, grill the tomatoes over a charcoal or wood fire until they are soft but the skins have not blackened.  Otherwise, broil them for 5 to 8 minutes, turning them frequently, until they are soft and the skins are blistered.  Purée in a blender and set them aside.
  8. Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Roast the garlic cloves until they are soft inside and slightly browned on the outside, about 20 minutes.  Let them cool briefly; then peel.  Put them in the blender with about 1/4 of the tomato purée and blend until smooth.
  9. Roast the ancho chiles in the oven until they puff up and are fragrant, about 3 to 5 minutes. 
  10. Remove the stem, seeds, and veins, tear into pieces, then blend in a small blender jar or spice mill.  (I use a coffee grinder for grinding chilies and spices.)  Roast the oregano in a dry skillet until it is aromatic, and remove it to a dish to stop the cooking.
  11. Heat the tomatoes; season them with the garlic purée, chilies, oregano, and salt and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.


Nutritional Information

Makes: 6 servings
  • Calories298
  • Carbohydrates20.9g
    • Dietary fiber3.8g
  • Cholesterol198mg
  • Fat18.4g
    • Saturated fat9.9g
  • Sodium288mg
  • Protein12.8g
* Nutritional Guidelines based on the USDA's MyPlate Standards.
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