I have had friends who wouldn’t invite me for dinner because they thought I was a better cook then they are. Actually, I really adore it when someone cooks for me. I don’t care if it’s perfect. Cooking for someone is an act of love and I love to be pampered. Don’t we all do? Make me a fried egg, please, I’ll love you for anything you cook for me.
There’s another fact. I hate to be a pain in the neck when someone invites me for a meal. However, I have all sorts of food intolerances. They even change with the time which is quite confusing for hosts who think they know my problems. I’ve been dairy free for 10 years. Now I can have dairy in moderate amounts but I can’t have wheat.
Conversely, and because I do cooking classes, I have found myself in the position having a hard time to plan a menu for someone because of their health or their choices. They just can’t be “normal” (like me 🙂 )
This recipe is a life saver for modern stomachs and desperate cooks. Not only it can be prepared in advance. It can also be made vegetarian by skipping the ham and gluten-free by substituting the flour. You can use la variety of vegetables like the spinach in this version or asparagus in the video at the end of this post. For the gluten-free version I use my GF cake-flour mix which works fantastic. In fact you would not even guess there is no wheat. A win-win.
for the crêpes:
- 250 ml (1 cup) milk
- 125 gr (3/4 cup) regular flour or gluten free equivalent ( I use my basic cake mix flour)
- 30 gr melted butter
- 2 eggs
- a pinch of salt, a pinch of nutmeg
- two tablespoon grated Parmigiano
for the filling:
- 300 gr (2/3 lb) blanched spinach, excess moisture removed by squeezing.
- 1 clove of garlic, finely minced
- 250 gr (1/2 lb) whole milk ricotta
- 120 gr (4 oz) cooked ham, diced
- 4 tablespoon Parmesan
- for the topping
- 1 and 1/2 cup quick Béchamel
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmigiano
For the crêpes, mix the liquid butter, eggs and milk in a bowl. Add flour, salt, nutmeg and whisk. Brush a 15 cm/6 inch , non-stick frying pan with melted butter and set over medium heat. Pour a small ladleful of the batter (about 3 tablespoon) in the pan and swirl to make the thinnest possible pancake. Cook for 1-2 minutes each side then remove and set aside. Repeat, to make 14-15 pancakes. I only butter the pan once at the beginning.
In a separate pan, heat the garlic briefly in 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, add the cooked spinach, salt lightly and warm through to infuse with the garlicky oil. Transfer in a food processor together with ricotta, the ham and two tablespoons Parmigiano. Process briefly until smooth.
Preheat the oven to 180˚C/350 °F and lightly grease a 22 x 30 cm baking dish with butter or olive oil
Distribute the spinach mixture in the centre of each pancake. Spread filling all over the pancake then roll like cannelloni.
Place in the baking dish. Spread crepes with Béchamel and sprinkle with two more tablespoon of Parmigiano. Bake for 10-15 minutes until golden and bubbly. Serve hot.
Serves 3-4 as a main dish.