We used to go to an Italian restaurant where the crespelle were to die for, and I've never been able to achieve the same perfection. This is my best effort. If you've never eaten crespelle before, they are thin Italian pancakes (just like French crepes) that can be filled and rolled up, rather like ravioli, topped with a sauce and baked in the oven.
Ingredients For the crespelle
85g plain flour, sifted
2 large eggs
For the filling
250g frozen spinach (you can use fresh, in which case you will need to increase the quantity, cook and drain it).
Freshly grated nutmeg
For the sauce
3 tbsps each of finely chopped carrot, onion and celery
1 400g tin of chopped plum tomatoes
100ml double cream
Freshly grated parmesan for serving
To make the crespelle put the milk into a mixing bowl and gradually add the sifted flour, mixing with a fork or balloon whisk until everything is blended and there are no lumps.
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating as you do so.
Heat a crepe pan, add a knob of butter and as soon as the pan is hot enough pour in enough batter to make one crepe. As soon as the batter has set lift the edge of the pancake with a spatula and flip it over to cook the other side. You can prepare them in advance, stacking them on a plate separated by sheets of greaseproof paper or baking parchment.
Thaw the frozen spinach and cook according to the directions on the packet. Drain, squeeze out as much liquid as you can, and chop coarsely.
Put the ricotta in a bowl and combine with the chopped spinach, generously grating in nutmeg.
Place a spoonful of ricotta and spinach in the middle of each crepe, roll up like a fat cigar and tuck the ends underneath.
Lightly grease a large baking dish, or a couple of smaller cocottes, and fill with the crespelle.
To make the sauce
Put the finely chopped vegetables,
tinned tomatoes and their juice, plus seasoning into a saucepan. Bring up to heat and cook at a gentle simmer for about 45 minutes without covering.
Whizz in a blender and then push through a foodmill or a sieve to remove the tomato pips before returning to the saucepan.
Raise the heat a little, add the cream and cook for about one minute, stirring constantly.
Pour the sauce over the crespelle, sprinkle liberally with freshly grated parmesan and put into the oven to bake for about ten minutes. If you want you can then flash under the grill for a few seconds to brown the top.
Serve with more parmesan and lots of crusty bread to soak up the juices.