Tag: bechamel

Baked Crespelle with Spinach, Béchamel and Parmesan

Spinach Crespelle

Spinach combined with a creamy sauce, be it Béchamel, ricotta or a blue cheese sauce is a delicious filling for any kind of pasta. This combination doesn’t need a lot of additional spices besides salt, pepper and nutmeg. It’s one of those things that’s best kept simple. I love it in cannelloni or lasagna but I’m extremely fond of it in crespelle, thin Italian pancakes, wrapped around a tasty filling. You could also use a sauce Bolognese but that wouldn’t give the crespelle much space. Keep it pure and you can enjoy the eggy wrap complemented with a mild filling.

When I’m in Italy I have this meal with tomato sauce poured on top, it looks like the Italian flag, green, white and red. The man of the house asked for the green and white version, just some parmesan grated on top of the rolled crespelle before they bake in the oven for 15 minutes. They turn golden, partially crisp but the spinach and Béchamel mixture keeps it moist and juicy inside. You could also replace the spinach with chard, I do that sometimes, it’s similar to my Chard and Ricotta Lasagna.

Spinach Crespelle

Baked Crespelle with Spinach, Béchamel and Parmesan

For 4 filled crespelle you need

spinach, rinsed, without stems, 350g / 12.5 ounces
fresh parmesan, grated, 80g / 3 ounces

Cook the spinach in salted water for 1-2 minutes (the thick leaved spinach needs 2 minutes), rinse with cold water for a couple seconds and drain. Chopped roughly, season it with salt, pepper and nutmeg and set aside.

 

For the Sauce Béchamel

milk 600ml
butter, melted, 30g / 1 ounce
plain flour 30g / 1 ounce
bay leaf 1
a pinch of nutmeg, grated
salt and pepper

Mix the milk with the nutmeg, salt and pepper. Whisk the flour into the hot butter. Bring the milk to the boil and whisk into the roux. Continue mixing until smooth. Add the bay leaf and cook for around 5 minutes on low heat until the texture is thick and smooth. Take the bay leaf out and season with salt and pepper.

 

For the crespelle

milk 160ml
organic eggs 2
plain flour 130g / 4.5 ounces
salt 1/4 teaspoon
butter for frying

Mix the ingredients well and let the dough rest for 5 minutes. Heat some butter in a large pan and fry 4 thin crespelle one at a time, golden on both sides.

 

The filled crespelle

Set the oven to 200°C.

Lay a crespelle flat on a plate, spread with 1/4 of the spinach and 3 tablespoons of the Béchamel on top, roll into a wrap. Continue with the rest and put them next to each other in a baking dish. Pour the rest of the sauce on top and sprinkle with parmesan (keep some cheese for the baked crespelle, I like to put some fresh cheese on when they come out of the oven). Bake for 12 minutes or until golden brown. You can also switch on the grill for 1-2 minutes, that makes it partially crisp.

Spinach Crespelle

An earthy Chard and Ricotta Lasagna

Chard Ricotta Lasagna

One of the qualities of chard, besides its wonderful taste, is that it gives me a spring feeling even in the coldest and darkest February evening. The thick green leaves are a promising hint of all the fresh green which will be on my plate in the next months, but for now I gladly enjoy this versatile vegetable. Chard tastes similar to spinach, but stronger with earthy flavours. I like it in combination with pasta and milky cheese. For a quick and easy dinner I chop the leaves roughly, cut the thicker stems into very thin slices, fry them in oil and deglaze everything with a glass of white wine. Mixed with spaghetti, some heavy cream and parmesan it’s a wonderful pasta dish.

With a bit more time, chard makes a delicious lasagna together with ricotta, Béchamel and some parmesan. For a cold night, I recommend this comfortable dish. It’s done after less than half an hour in the oven, you just need to blanch the chard beforehand and prepare the Béchamel.

Chard Ricotta Lasagna

Chard and Ricotta Lasagna

I use a 27cm x 20cm / 10.5″ x 8″ baking dish, definitely big enough for 4 people.

The chard

chard, rinsed, 500g / 18 ounces
nutmeg, ground
salt and black pepper

Bring a large pot with water to the boil. Cut the soft green of the chard into 1 cm / 1/2″ strips and the hard white parts into very thin slices. Salt the water, first boil the white slices of chard for a couple minutes until al dente, then throw in the the green as well and cook for 1 minute. Take the chard out of the water and rinse in a sieve with cold water for 1-2 seconds. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste and set aside.

For the Sauce Béchamel

milk 600ml
butter, 30g / 1 ounce
plain flour 30g / 1 ounce
bay leaf 1
a pinch of nutmeg, grated
salt and black pepper

Mix the milk with the nutmeg, salt and pepper and bring to the boil. In a sauce pan, melt the butter and whisk in the flour. Pour the hot milk into the roux and continue mixing till smooth. Add the bay leaf and simmer for around 5 minutes on low heat until the texture is thick and smooth. Take the bay leaf out and season with salt and pepper.

 

For the Lasagna

lasagna pasta around 250g / 9 ounces
ricotta 250g / 9 ounces
parmesan, grated, 4-6 tablespoons

Set the oven to 180°C / 355°F and butter the baking dish.

Put down a layer of pasta in the baking dish, spread with 1/2 the chard, pour 1/3 of the Béchamel over it and sprinkle with 1/2 of the ricotta (in big lumps). Repeat with another layer of pasta, the rest of the chard and ricotta and 1/3 of the Béchamel, cover with the final layer of pasta and the remaining Béchamel. Sprinkle with parmesan. Bake for 25 minutes or until the pasta is done, switch on the grill for 2 minutes or until the pasta becomes golden brown and partially crisp.

Chard Ricotta Lasagna