A classic of Florentine cuisine. Italian home cooking meets the finest organic vegetables, which grow on my doorstep and whose taste truly impresses me.
Lucky to have a garden
Not many of us are lucky enough to have our own garden where we can grow our own lettuce and berries, root and field vegetables or tomatoes. My grandmother's and mother's garden in northern Italy had it all. Gardening, planting, weeding, watering, hoeing and, of course, harvesting at the end, was an integral part of the family's cooking. The women paid close attention to the best quality. They knew that delicious food has its origins in high quality ingredients. I was so lucky to grow up with this appreciation of food.
The taste that comes from the soil
For most of us today, cooking tends to start between the shelves of a supermarket. We know little about the origins of the food we buy here. To be on the safe side, many of us turn to organic products. By paying attention to what we eat, we contribute significantly to a bright future for our children. But still, we don't know whether these aubergines were able to ripen in the sun and whether the strawberries have any flavour. An essential contribution to the taste of fruits and vegetables is the quality of the soil in which they are grown.
Pancakes for all occasions
Crespelle con ricotta e spinaci is a traditional Florentine dish that we are grateful to Catherine de Medici for. The Florentine noblewoman brought the crespelle to France after her marriage to King Henry II, because she could not survive without Italian cuisine. Here, crespelle soon made a name for themselves as crêpes. The filled pancakes taste even better when they are prepared au gratin. I vary the filling depending on the season and use asparagus, nettle or mallow leaves, chard, black cabbage, artichokes, chicory or courgettes instead of spinach.
Ricotta and spinach pancakes au gratin
- 150 g flour
- 3 eggs
- 400 ml milk
- 1 pinch salt
- some butter
For the filling
- 500 g spinach, fresh
- 250 g Ricotta, fresh
- 1 egg
- 200 g Parmesan
For the béchamel sauce
- 50 g butter
- 50 g flour
- 500 ml milk
- For the dough, mix the flour, eggs, milk and a pinch of salt together and leave to rest for half an hour. Heat a little butter in a pan. Pour a small amount of the mixture into the pan and immediately spread it evenly over the entire surface of the pan. Allow to cook for 1-2 minutes on the underside and turn over as soon as the mixture becomes firm. Now cook the other side briefly until light brown. Remove the pancakes from the pan and set aside. Fry the rest of the mixture into thin pancakes in the same way.
- For the filling, carefully clean the spinach and blanch for a few minutes in hot water, leave to cool a little, squeeze well and, coarsely chopped, mix with the other ingredients for the filling.
- For the béchamel sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan. Grate in the nutmeg as desired. Add the flour and sauté briefly while stirring. The flour must not turn brown. Slowly add the milk while stirring. Bring the béchamel sauce to the boil once, then simmer at a low temperature until it thickens. The total cooking time for the béchamel sauce is about 15 minutes.
- Pre-heat the oven to 180° C. Lightly grease the casserole dish and add the layers of pancakes, spinach cream, béchamel sauce and a few spoonfuls of tomato sauce. This is sprinkled with grated Parmesan cheese. Then start again with pancakes ... Alternate these steps as long as you have ingredients. The last layer should be the Parmesan. Bake the crespelle in the pre-heated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown on top. If the top layer darkens too quickly, cover the dish with aluminium foil. Enjoy warm. You can reheat leftovers in the oven. Just add a few tablespoons of milk to soften the pancakes again.