Crespelle are Tuscan crepes that are often used in place of pasta. They can be stuffed and rolled like cannelloni or layered as you would make a lasagna. Crespelle can also be either sweet or savory. You can use a variety of fillings for your crespelle. Still, this filling of ricotta cheese and spinach is the most common.
I used to make crespelle often when we lived in Milan, Italy, and my kids were young because they were my son’s favorite. I hesitate to admit that I haven’t made crespelle for many years. Still, when I was making a list of upcoming recipes that I wanted to test out a few months ago, I decided that crespelle needed to be on my list.
You can either use a crepe pan or a non-stick frying pan to make the crepes. This batter works best if it is refrigerated for at least two hours before using, and it might take a try or two before you perfect the method. The list of ingredients might look daunting, but the recipe does not take that long to assemble, is very impressive when served, and best of all, it can be prepared ahead of time!
For The Crespelle:
- 1 1/2 Cups Whole Milk, Plus More As Needed
- 4 Large Eggs
- 1⁄2 Tsp. Salt
- 1 Cup (4 oz.) All-purpose Flour
- 4 Tbsp. Unsalted Butter, Melted
- Olive Oil, As Needed
For The Béchamel Sauce:
- 6 Tbsp. Unsalted Butter, Cut Into Pieces
- 1⁄4 Cup All-purpose Flour
- 4 Cups Whole Milk
- 1 Tbsp. Salt
- Pinch of Pepper
- 1⁄2 tsp. Freshly Grated Nutmeg
For The Ricotta Filling:
- 500 Grams Fresh Baby Spinach
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 1 Clove Garlic, Minced
- 1 Pound Full Fat Ricotta Cheese
- 1 Cup Grated Pecorino Cheese
- Salt & Pepper To Taste
- 1 Large Egg
Ingredients To Complete The Dish:
- 3/4 Cup Grated Pecorino Cheese
- 1 1/2 Cups Quick Tomato Sauce or Other Prepared Tomato Sauce
For the crespelle batter, in a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, and salt until well combined.
Sift in the flour a little at a time, whisking after each addition, until the batter smooth.
Whisk in the melted butter, then cover and refrigerate the batter for at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours.
For the béchamel, melt the butter in a heavy saucepan over low heat.
Once it has completely melted and is bubbling, add the flour and mix well with a wooden spoon.
Cook for a minute or two until the flour just begins to take on some color.
Slowly start adding the milk, whisking continuously to prevent lumps from forming.
Continue to simmer until the sauce begins to thicken, stirring often.
Season with a pinch of salt, pepper and nutmeg.
Cover with a layer of plastic wrap and cool to room temperature.
To make the crespelle, first give the batter a quick stir to mix.
In a non-stick skillet add a few drops of olive oil, then wipe the skillet clean with a dry paper towel so that only a very thin film of oil remains.
When the skillet is hot, hold the skillet in one hand and 1/4 cup ladle of batter in the other.
Pour the batter into the skillet and immediately tilt the pan in a circular motion to spread the batter in an even layer across the surface.
Cook the crepe until the edges become golden brown and the underside has developed a golden color, 2–3 minutes.
Using your fingers or a thin spatula, flip the crepe and cook until the batter is fully set and begins to turn golden in color, about 30 seconds more.
Transfer the crespella to a large plate.
Repeat with the remaining batter, adding more oil to the skillet as necessary if it becomes too dry. You should have 10 crespelle by the end of this process.
If preparing the crespelle in advance, you can stack them on a plate, wrap them in plastic wrap, and store them in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.
To make the filling, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat, then add the garlic and the spinach, cover and decrease heat to low.
Cook for 3 minutes, uncover and stir the spinach.
Continue doing this until the spinach has completely wilted.
Cool and once you can handle the spinach, squeeze all the excess liquid out until as dry as possible.
Chop the spinach with a knife, then place in a bowl.
Add the ricotta cheese, grated Pecorino, and egg and stir until well mixed.
Season with salt and pepper.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. To assemble the dish, spread a little béchamel across the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch ovenproof casserole dish.
Read some of the filling over each of the crepes, and either roll them up as you would cannelloni or fold in half, then in quarters as you would a handkerchief.
Arrange the crespelle in the prepared pan, slightly overlapping.
Spoon the remaining béchamel over the crespelle, drop the tomato sauce on top, then sprinkle with the grated cheese.
Bake for 10 minutes, then lower heat to 375 degrees F, and bake until the crespelle are golden brown and bubbling along the sides.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 5 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 939Total Fat: 65gSaturated Fat: 35gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 26gCholesterol: 349mgSodium: 2898mgCarbohydrates: 50gFiber: 5gSugar: 18gProtein: 41g