I always feel so elegant when eating crepes, even if I'm very casual at the time. We've enjoyed them on several occasions since trying the wonderful recipe in The Sweet Melissa Baking Book, and each time I glanced at my herb garden, thinking about adding herbs to the batter and making some savory crepes. After I stumbled across this recipe at Epicurious, I knew I had to make it.
The crepes are slightly crispy when they come out of the oven topped with grated Parmesan, and you just pour on that slightly spicy sauce and serve. It's one of those dishes that's great for company because you can prepare the crepes and sauce a day or two ahead, then whip up the filling just before assembling and baking. As someone who is fond of baked manicotti, I found this much easier because you don't have to stuff the pasta and worry about it breaking. The crepes roll up around the ricotta filling and go in and out of the pan easily. Michael said, "Wow!" when I plated them and kept saying how good they tasted. I guess the flavorful crepes made him feel pretty special, too.
This is my entry for this month's Grow Your Own event. The fresh basil and parsley came from our indoor herb garden. When bell peppers are in season, you can use those instead of the spinach in the filling, and of course fresh tomatoes straight from the garden will taste delicious in the sauce.
You can substitute 1 large bell pepper, diced, for the spinach. We also like to double the tomato sauce recipe and save the extras for pasta.
Ricotta and Spinach Stuffed Herb Crepes
- crepe pan or similar skillet
- 3-quart pot with lid
- 10-inch skillet
- 9x13 baking dish, coated with butter
- 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 cup chicken broth (plus 2 tablespoons )
- 3 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (melted and cooled)
- ½ tablespoon salt
- ⅓ cup minced fresh basil leaves
- 14 ounces canned crushed tomatoes
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt (or to taste)
- ¼ teaspoon sugar
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- ½ teaspoon dried basil
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste)
- ¾ cup peeled (seeded, and diced fresh tomatoes)
- 2 cups baby spinach
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 garlic clove (minced)
- 1 pound part-skim ricotta cheese
- ⅓ cup freshly grated Parmesan
- ¼ cup minced parsley
- 1 to 2 tablespoons melted butter (for brushing on the crepes)
- 2 tablespoon grated Parmesan (for sprinkling on top)
- BATTER: In a blender or food processor blend the flour, the broth, the eggs, the butter, and the salt for 5 seconds. Turn off the motor, with a rubber spatula scrape down the sides of the container, and blend the batter for 20 seconds more. Transfer the batter to a bowl, stir in the herbs, and let the batter stand, covered, for 1 hour. The batter may be made 1 day in advance and kept covered and chilled. Makes enough batter for about 16 crepes.
- MAKE THE CREPES: Heat a crepe pan or non-stick skillet measuring 6 to 7 inches across the bottom over moderate heat until it is hot. Brush the pan lightly with the butter, heat it until it is hot but not smoking, and remove it from the heat. Stir the batter, half fill a ¼-cup measure with it, and pour the batter into the pan. Tilt and rotate the pan quickly to cover the bottom with a layer of batter and return any excess batter to bowl. Return the pan to the heat, loosen the edge of the crepe with a spatula, and cook the crepe for 1 minute, or until the top appears almost dry. Turn the crepe, cook the other side lightly, and transfer the crepe to a plate. Make crepe with the remaining batter in the same manner, brushing the pan lightly with butter as necessary. The crepes may be made 3 days in advance, kept stacked, wrapped in plastic wrap, and chilled.
- In the 3-quart pot, stir together the tomatoes, salt, sugar, tomato paste, basil, and the cayenne. Bring the mixture to a boil, and simmer, stirring, for 20 minutes. Add the fresh tomatoes and cook the mixture for 5 minutes. Serve the sauce warm. Makes about 1-¼ cups.
- In a skillet cook the spinach in the oil over moderately low heat, stirring, until it starts to wilt, add the garlic, and cook the mixture, stirring, for 1 minute. In a bowl stir together the spinach mixture, the ricotta, Parmesan, parsley, and salt and pepper to taste. Set the filling aside to cool.
Assemble and Bake
- Preheat the oven to 400°F with the rack in the middle.
- Spread about 2 tablespoons of the filling on each crepe and roll up jelly-roll fashion. Arrange the crepes, seam sides down, in the buttered baking pan in one layer. Brush them lightly with the butter, and sprinkle on the remaining Parmesan. Bake the crepes for 20 minutes and serve them with the sauce.