This is a Tuscan favorite dating back to the middle ages. The French claim the crepe's origin but the Tuscans claim that Catherine Medici introduced it to the French Court. This dish is often served on Christmas.
2 eggs, beaten
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons melted sweet butter
2/3 cup luke warm milk
Pinch of salt
Butter to grease the pan
1 1/2 pounds ricotta (sheep or buffalo preferred)
2 1/2 pounds stemmed spinach, wilted1
2 egg yolks
2/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
A pinch nutmeg
Sea salt to taste
Italian White Sauce with Cheese
This sauce is especially used for crepes, cannelloni or lasagna.
8 tablespoons of unsalted butter
8 tablespoons “00” flour
½ cup heavy cream
½ cup whole milk
1 cup on onion stock (see below)
1 cups chicken stock
3/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Add one whole onion, cut up and one whole bay leaf to 2 ½ cups of cold water. Boil until onion is tender. Strain. Use this clear onion stock for this recipe.
Melt over low heat unsalted butter add and blend over low heat for 3 - 5 minutes flour. Slowly add cream, onion stock, chicken stock. Cook and whisk the sauce until it thickens. Season with white pepper. Add grated Parmesan cheese. Correct the seasoning. If the sauce has to stand for an extended period, it may be re-heated and strained through a medium strainer.
Passata di Pomodoro
3 ripe, peeled and seeded vine ripened tomatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
A small bunch of Italian sweet basil
Prepare a passata of tomatoes. Heat oil and simmer tomatoes with basil covered on medium low. Stir occasionally, mashing any parts that have not broken down. Cool and set aside until needed
Make the batter. Let batter rest in the refrigerator for an hour before using.
Make the crepes using either a well seasoned or a non-stick pan using a patty of butter for each crepe. Cook on both sides. No need to brown. Hold cooked crepes layered between parchment papers until needed.
Prepare filling in a food processor. Taste it, add salt as needed. Crepes are delicate so the filling that is spread should not be too stiff. It may be softened by adding a bit of cream in the processor.
Assemble crepes each in its own 10 inch buttered oval Au Gratin pan. Roll cheese-spinach filling in crepe. Lay filled crepe lengthwise in pan, and then cover each crepe with white sauce. Top crepe with grated pecorino Romano cheese and a bit of passata.
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Bake for 20 minutes until done. Remove from oven and serve hot garnished with a sprig of fresh basil.