Fazzoletti di crespelle

Fazzoletti di crespelle (Stuffed Crepe “Handkerchiefs”)

In pasta, primi piatti by Frank23 Comments

It may come as a surprise, but Italians make crepes. They’re called crespelle in Italian (even if many Italians just call them by their French name, as we do in English). The most common use for crepes in Italian cookery is not as dessert, but as stuffed pasta. They can take the place of egg pasta to make cannelloni, or you can use them to make fazzoletti della nonna, “grandma’s handkerchiefs”, or fazzoletti di crespelle, or “crepe handkerchiefs”: stuff them with a filling of your choice, then fold them into triangles that are said to look like handkerchiefs–hence the name–cover them with béchamel and grated cheese and bake them in the oven until golden brown on top.

Ingredients

Serves 4-6

For the filling:

  • A bunch of Swiss chard
  • Butter
  • 75g (3 oz) ricotta cheese
  • 50g (2 oz) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Freshly grated nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper

For the crespelle:

  • 250ml (1 cup) milk
  • 125g (3/4 cup) flour
  • 2 eggs
  • Salt
  • Butter

For baking:

  • One batch of béchamel sauce, made with 500ml (2 cups) of milk
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, q.b.
  • Butter

Directions

For the filling: The filling I used this time was ricotta and swiss chard, which is almost identical to the more familiar ricotta and spinach filling. Taking a whole bunch of swiss chard, you trim the leaves from the stalks and blanch the leaves only in abundant vigorously boiling water for just 2-3 minutes. Drain and refresh immediately in cold water, squeeze out the water with your hands and chop the leaves finely. Then sauté the chopped leaves in butter to remove any lingering liquid and allowing the leaves to absorb the butter. Transfer the chard to a mixing bowl, and mix gently with a healthy dollop of ricotta cheese, a handful of grated parmesan cheese, a pinch of grated nutmeg, salt and pepper.(You can add an egg yolk if you like for a richer and stiffer stuffing.

To make crespelle: Crespelle are, as mentioned, basically are crepes. But they are rather smaller than the average crepe—only around 10 cm or so wide. You make a very thin batter (the thinner the batter, the thinner the resulting crespella) from 1 cup (250ml) of milk, into which you whisk 3/4 cup (125g) of flour, 2 whole eggs and a pinch of salt. (You can also add melted butter to the batter, which eliminates the need to melt butter in the pan.) You heat a small non-stick skillet over moderately hot heat, you drop a sliver of butter and allow it to melt, swirling it around to cover the bottom of the pan. Pour 1/4 cup of batter into the center of the skillet, immediately raise the skillet off the burner and swirl the batter around until it covers the bottom of the pan. (If it doesn’t cover the entire bottom, you can always add a bit more batter to the bare spots—it will ‘merge’ with the rest.) Allow the crespella to form a solid disk that will slide around the skillet, then flip it over and continue to cook until the other side is lightly spottled. Remove to a plate and repeat until you’ve used up all the batter. (Don’t worry if your crespelle are not perfectly round, it will not be noticeable in the finished dish.)

To make bechamel sauce: One of the mother sauces of French cuisine, bechamel is also used in northern Italian cooking in all sorts of baked pasta dishes, including the classic lasagne alla bolognese. You can find my recipe here.

Then stuff the crespelle with your filling, spreading a fairly thin layer on the ‘underside’ of each crespella, leaving a small margin around the edge of the disk. You then fold the disk into a triangle so as to resemble a handkerchief, and place ‘pointy’ side up, in a well-greased gratin dish. You continue placing the crespelle, slightly overlapping as if they were roof tiles, until you have filled the gratin pan (or run out of crespelle or filling!) Nap with bechamel sauce, grate over copious amounts of parmesan cheese, dot with butter, and you’re ready to bake.

Bake in a hot oven (400 F, 200 C) for about 10-15 minutes. If the top is not nicely browned, pass the dish under a broiler until the surface is nicely spottled but not uniformly browned. Let the dish settle for 5 minutes or so and serve.

Notes

Fazzoletti di crespelle can be stuffed in an infinite variety of fillings, including with meat, fish and poultry—any filling you can use for stuffed pasta, you can use for crespelle. Instead of triangular fazzoletti, as mentioned, they can be rolled up like cannelloni if you prefer, and for ‘chunkier’ fillings, this is the preferable way to make them.

Swiss chard has large green ribbed leaves, with stems that can be either red or white, with a taste similar to but more delicate than spinach. Mature chard have stems that are rather more like stalks, which can be cooked separately in various ways. For this filling, the stems or stalks need to be removed. It can be used instead of spinach in just about any recipes that calls for spinach, in salads when young, sautéed or gratinéed when mature.
You can prepare this dish ahead through the arrangement on a baking dish. Just leave it and pop it in the oven when you’re ready to eat.  (If you make it the day before and have refrigerated it, take it out of the fridge and let it return to room temperature before baking it.) Unlike pasta, the crespelle will not absorb the filling or topping very readily, so you can assemble it and have it ready for the oven hours (or even a day) ahead. It’s a nice choice for a dinner where you want to impress your guests with something elegant.

NB: Fazzoletti are also a kind of pasta, so be careful when Googling for more recipes!

Fazzoletti di crespelle (Stuffed Crepe “Handkerchiefs”)

Rating: 51

Yield: Serves 4-6

Ingredients

    For the filling:
  • A bunch of Swiss chard
  • Butter
  • 75g (3 oz) ricotta cheese
  • 50g (2 oz) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Freshly grated nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper
  • For the crespelle:
  • 250ml (1 cup) milk
  • 125g (3/4 cup) flour
  • 2 eggs
  • Salt
  • Butter
  • For baking:
  • One batch of béchamel sauce, made with 500ml (2 cups) of milk
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, q.b.
  • Butter

Directions

    For the filling:
  1. The filling I used this time was ricotta and swiss chard, which is almost identical to the more familiar ricotta and spinach filling. Taking a whole bunch of swiss chard, you trim the leaves from the stalks and blanch the leaves only in abundant vigorously boiling water for just 2-3 minutes. Drain and refresh immediately in cold water, squeeze out the water with your hands and chop the leaves finely. Then sauté the chopped leaves in butter to remove any lingering liquid and allowing the leaves to absorb the butter. Transfer the chard to a mixing bowl, and mix gently with a healthy dollop of ricotta cheese, a handful of grated parmesan cheese, a pinch of grated nutmeg, salt and pepper.(You can add an egg yolk if you like for a richer and stiffer stuffing.
  2. To make crespelle:
  3. Crespelle are, as mentioned, basically are crepes. But they are rather smaller than the average crepe—only around 10 cm or so wide. You make a very thin batter (the thinner the batter, the thinner the resulting crespella) from 1 cup (250ml) of milk, into which you whisk 3/4 cup (125g) of flour, 2 whole eggs and a pinch of salt. (You can also add melted butter to the batter, which eliminates the need to melt butter in the pan.) You heat a small non-stick skillet over moderately hot heat, you drop a sliver of butter and allow it to melt, swirling it around to cover the bottom of the pan. Pour 1/4 cup of batter into the center of the skillet, immediately raise the skillet off the burner and swirl the batter around until it covers the bottom of the pan. (If it doesn't cover the entire bottom, you can always add a bit more batter to the bare spots—it will 'merge' with the rest.) Allow the crespella to form a solid disk that will slide around the skillet, then flip it over and continue to cook until the other side is lightly spottled. Remove to a plate and repeat until you've used up all the batter. (Don't worry if your crespelle are not perfectly round, it will not be noticeable in the finished dish.)
  4. To make bechamel sauce:
  5. One of the mother sauces of French cuisine, bechamel is also used in northern Italian cooking in all sorts of baked pasta dishes, including the classic lasagne alla bolognese. You can find my recipe here.
  6. Then stuff the crespelle with your filling, spreading a fairly thin layer on the 'underside' of each crespella, leaving a small margin around the edge of the disk. You then fold the disk into a triangle so as to resemble a handkerchief, and place 'pointy' side up, in a well-greased gratin dish. You continue placing the crespelle, slightly overlapping as if they were roof tiles, until you have filled the gratin pan (or run out of crespelle or filling!) Nap with bechamel sauce, grate over copious amounts of parmesan cheese, dot with butter, and you're ready to bake.
  7. Bake in a hot oven (400 F, 200 C) for about 10-15 minutes. If the top is not nicely browned, pass the dish under a broiler until the surface is nicely spottled but not uniformly browned. Let the dish settle for 5 minutes or so and serve.
http://memoriediangelina.com/2010/01/09/fazzoletti-di-crespelle/

Comments

  1. I just learned about crespelle. Learned about, made, ate, am now obsessively finding out more about. This. Looks. Amazing. Thanks for sharing it! I'm going to have to make it soon… 🙂

  2. mmmm!buonissimissimo and delicious!I have to buy a little frying pan for these now!2friends4cooking.com

  3. yes, I know I would love this … bet it would be good also with seafood….now if only I had someone to make these for me – send me a dish!

  4. Lovely, and too little known, well done for sharing this!

    Do you know the luscious Timballo di Scripelle (Crespelle), a pancake Lasagne from the Abbruzzi? Another woderful Italian way with pancakes.

  5. Lovely, and too little known, well done for sharing this!

    Do you know the luscious Timballo di Scripelle (Crespelle), a pancake Lasagne from the Abbruzzi? Another woderful Italian way with pancakes.

  6. My great-aunt used to cook a similar dish but she rolled the crepes like cannelloni and filled them with ground meat. It was a great dish and I always wanted to make it. We used to anticipate the day where she was cooking because she spent a great part of her life working as a personal cook, and her food was great. She is too old now to host lunches or dinners, but mom still makes a couple of dishes she got from her mmmm.
    The swiss chard is very interesting as a vegetable, we use it a lot in Lebanon.
    Maybe now I can make a double batch of crepes and cook both.

  7. Oh this is fabulous! You are an Italian gourmet, even though you don't like the word ;)Congrats on your new endeavor! My grandmother often prepared swiss chard, I love it. The stalks are good with potatoes, onions, and hot peppers.

  8. The crespelle look as though they are very versatile. Almost any flavor combination could be used to make a delicious dish. Wonderful recipe!

  9. Looks more than delicious Frank, thanks for a great idea. Filling to experiment with must be abundant!

  10. Oh my goodness… this looks outstanding. I was just at a Seattle food event where they had savory crepes and while I had my fill of delicious food, this has made me hungry all over again! Oh, my expanding waistline!

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