Photo ©Juls Kitchen
First courses
Crespelle alla Fiorentina Recipe
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Difficulty
Easy
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Serves
6

Crespelle alla Fiorentina are related to Caterina de’ Medici and to the age-old French-Florentine dispute on who influenced who in cooking. Crespelle, the Italian cousin of the French crêpes, are first stuffed with a spinach and ricotta filling scented with nutmeg, another favourite of Caterina de’ Medici, then either rolled like a cannellone or folded as a handkerchief, hence the other name pezzole delle nonne.

Ingredients

Ingredients for the crespelle

  • 3 eggs
  • 3 heaping tablespoons of plain flour
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 300 ml of whole milk

Ingredients for the filling

  • 400 g of cooked spinach
  • 400 g of fresh ricotta
  • 30 g of grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • Grated nutmeg
  • 1 egg

Ingredients for the béchamel sauce

  • 50 g of butter
  • 60 g of plain flour
  • 700 ml of whole milk
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • Grated nutmeg

Ingredients to finish the dish

  • Grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • Tomato purée
  • Extra virgin olive oil 

 

Preparation

Follow these steps:

Prepare the crespelle batter. Whisk the eggs with flour and a pinch of salt. Remove all the flour lumps. Pour the milk in a thin stream and whisk to incorporate. Cover the bowl with cling film and put in the fridge for about one hour.

Now to the filling. Add the perfectly squeezed and chopped spinach in a bowl with the ricotta, the grated Pecorino, a pinch of nutmeg and salt. Mix with a fork as to have a beautifully marbled green and white filling. Taste it: should it be too bland, add more grated cheese. Beat an egg and stir into the filling. Set aside.

Prepare the crespelle: heat a 20cm large non-stick pan on medium heat. Soak a paper napkin in olive oil and brush with it the hot pan. Pour the crespelle batter into the pan and swirl to cover it with a thin layer. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes until the crespella becomes golden brown on the edges, then with a spatula flip it and cook also on the other side for one more minute. Move the first crespella onto a plate and prepare the second one. You should obtain 8 crespelle.

Now make the béchamel sauce. Melt the butter in a saucepan on medium heat. When melted, spoon in the flour and whisk for a few minutes until golden and toasted. Pour in the cold milk in a thin stream, stirring constantly to avoid lumps. Let on medium-low heat until thickened and season with a good pinch of salt and grated nutmeg as to give the béchamel a delicate spiced smell.

Now that you have all the ingredients you need - crespelle, béchamel and filling - preheat oven to 200°C. Spread each pancake with the spinach and ricotta filling: roll them up as a cannellone or fold them as a handkerchief.

Arrange the crespelle slightly overlapping in a baking dish previously spread with a few tablespoons of béchamel sauce. Drizzle the crespelle with the left béchamel sauce, a few tablespoons of tomato purée, more grated Pecorino and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Lower the oven temperature to 180°C and bake for about 20 minutes until golden brown and bubbling on the sides. Eat the crespelle hot just out of the oven or, even better, warm them the day after with a dash of milk.