Saturday, 25 February 2017

Shrove Tuesday: "Crepelloni", Italitan Style Spinach and Cheese Rolls with Tomato Sauce (Vegetarian Friendly)

This is the last weekend before Lent, and that means only one thing: Shrove Tuesday is just around the corner! So to mark the occasion, I will be sharing a variety of recipes to try out this year. Starting with this one: Italian style 'Crepelloni'!

Here in Ireland, we celebrate Shrove Tuesday with pancakes, as such it's mostly called Pancake Tuesday. We generally speaking eat crêpe style pancakes, not American style thick pancakes (drop scones), and they work for sweet or savoury toppings. They are particularly nice with lemon juice and sugar, which is traditional in Ireland and Great Britain, for sure.

According to my mother, and her mother, and probably her mother too, to make pancakes you use quarter of a pound of flour, half a (UK) pint of milk, and an egg (which is 115 grammes, 285 millilitres, and an egg). So, that is how I've always made them for my whole life, and they've never done me wrong.

However, I thought I'd do something a little different this year, which is inspired greatly by the work of Delia Smith. On one of her cookery programmes from 20 odd years ago, Delia made some Italian cannelloni using pancakes rather than traditional tube pasta (in more recent books and programmes, she uses cooked lasagne sheets), and it works really well. When I tried to find a reference for the book or programme, I couldn't find the original publication, but I did find that a few other people have tried this and written about it. The only reference I could find is a 21 year old newspaper article from the British Independent.

There are so many things you could put in these, but this time I went for something vegetarian. Spinach and soft cheese filling with tomato sauce is one of my all time favourite Italian combinations, and good for veggie boys and girls, it contains no meat whatsoever.

This means you can have pancakes for breakfast and dinner on Shrove Tuesday!

Makes 6 cannelloni
  • 4 ounces (155 grammes) white spelt flour
  • ½ UK pint (1¼ cups, 285 millilitres) milk, or milk alternative
  • 1 egg, medium or large
  • Butter, or margarine, for frying
For the filling and sauce,
  • 6 ounces (170 grammes) spinach, cooked and finely cut
  • 8 ounces (225 grammes) soft low fat cheese, such as ricotta, cottage cheese, or quark
  • 1 medium egg
  • 2 ounces (55 grammes) grated mozzarella
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 8 or so ounces (225 grammes) tomato pasta sauce of your liking
  • Grated mozzarella and cheddar cheese, for topping
  • Butter, or margarine, for greasing


First, make the crepes,
  • In a mixing bowl, sieve the flour and make a well in the centre. Add the egg, and then mix in the milk a little at a time using a wire whisk until all the milk is added, making sure to mix well after each addition to get rid of any lumps.
  • Allow to the batter to sit on the work surface for about half an hour to relax.
  • When you want to fry them, heat a large frying pan over medium heat. Add about quarter of a teaspoon of butter, or margarine, and swirl it around the pan until it has melted.
  • Add about a third of a cup (85 millilitres) of batter to the pan and swirl it around the cover the base of the pan. Cook for about 45 seconds to a minute, until the top is dry and set, and underneath is lightly browned
  • Flip the pancake, and cook for a further 45 seconds to a minute, until it has browned also.
  • Continue cooking the pancakes until you have used all the batter. You should get about 6 or 7 large pancakes.
To complete the dish,
  • Grease a 6x8 inch (15x20 centimetre) baking dish lightly, and preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F, Gas Mk.6).
  • In a mixing bowl, mix all the spinach, soft cheese, egg, and grated mozzarella until smooth and well mixed. Season to taste with salt and pepper (you can skip this if you have a problem with eating raw egg).
  • Take a pancake, place a sixth of the filling in the middle. Fold in the sides a little, then roll the pancake around the filling to make a parcel.
  • Repeat this with six pancakes in total, then place the rolls in the dish. Pour as much sauce as you like on top of the the rolls, then top off with the cheeses to your liking.
  • Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the level of crispiness you want on top, then serve hot in warmed pasta bowls, or plates.

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