Fresh ricotta and spinach crespellini

When I initially looked at this recipe, I thought it was just for a bog standard spinach and ricotta cannelloni type thing. This is pretty standard vegetarian fayre, so not something to get overly excited about. However, I then spotted that the recipe included making your own ricotta cheese, which I’d never done before and also instead of using pasta, this recipes involves making pancakes and stuffing them with the spinach and ricotta filling. So while this might look familiar, this recipe is completely new for me.

It’s really delicious – making your own ricotta is obviously a step you don’t need to complete as shop bought would be fine but I enjoyed learning the new skill!

Fresh ricotta and spinach crespellini
Serves 6
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648 calories
49 g
179 g
39 g
27 g
20 g
704 g
790 g
25 g
1 g
18 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
Amount Per Serving
Calories 648
Calories from Fat 349
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 39g
Saturated Fat 20g
Trans Fat 1g
Polyunsaturated Fat 3g
Monounsaturated Fat 15g
Cholesterol 179mg
Sodium 790mg
Total Carbohydrates 49g
Dietary Fiber 3g
Sugars 25g
Protein 27g
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
For the spinach and ricotta
  1. 1.6 litres full-cream milk
  2. 125ml double cream
  3. ¼ tsp salt
  4. 3 tbsp lemon juice
  5. 2 tbsp olive oil
  6. 1 garlic clove, crushed
  7. 500g fresh spinach, washed and large stalks removed
  8. 25g parmesan (or vegetarian alternative), finely grated
  9. 1 medium free-range egg, beaten
  10. Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
For the pancakes
  1. 300ml milk
  2. 1 medium egg
  3. 1 egg yolk
  4. 100g plain flour, sifted
  5. ¼ tsp salt
For the tomato sauce
  1. 2 tbsp olive oil
  2. 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  3. 1 fat garlic clove, crushed
  4. 600g canned chopped tomatoes
  5. 2 fresh thyme sprigs, leaves picked
  6. 2 bay leaves
For the cheese sauce
  1. 50g butter
  2. 45g plain flour
  3. 600ml milk
  4. 50ml double cream
  5. 50g parmesan (or vegetarian alternative), finely grated
  1. Start by making the ricotta for the filling. Pour the milk and double cream into a pan and add the salt. Put over a low-medium heat and cook, stirring now and then, until it reaches 93°C on a digital probe thermometer (it will be gently steaming, the surface will be shimmering and small bubbles will have appeared on the surface). Meanwhile, put a large sieve over a mixing bowl and line it with a square of damp muslin. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the lemon juice and continue to stir for a few seconds until curds begin to form (it will look like lumpy yogurt). Leave for 2 minutes, then, using a slotted spoon, gently ladle the curds into the sieve, taking care not to break them up too much. Leave to drain for 40-60 minutes, then cover and chill if not using straightaway.
  2. For the pancakes, whisk the milk, egg, egg yolk, flour and salt (you can use a blender or processor) to make a smooth batter with the consistency of single cream. If you have time, set the batter aside for 30 minutes. Heat a 17-20cm non-stick frying pan over a medium-high heat. Brush the base with a little oil, ladle in 2 tbsp of the batter and swirl it around so it thinly coats the base of the pan. Cook for about 40 seconds or until lightly golden underneath and just browned at the edges, then turn the pancake over and cook for about 30 seconds more until marked with light brown spots. Slide the pancake onto a plate, cover with a square of baking paper, then repeat with the remaining batter to make 12 pancakes.
  3. For the tomato sauce, heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan, add the onion, season lightly, cover and cook over a low heat for 10-12 minutes until the onion is soft and translucent but not browned. Add the garlic and fry for 1 minute more. Add the chopped tomatoes and herbs, then simmer for 20-25 minutes, stirring now and then, until reduced and thickened. Discard the bay leaves and season to taste.
  4. To finish the spinach and ricotta filling, heat the 2 tbsp oil in a large saucepan. Add the garlic and spinach and stir-fry over a high heat until the spinach has wilted. Tip into a colander and press out any excess liquid. Coarsely chop, transfer to a mixing bowl and leave to cool. Mix in the ricotta, parmesan (or alternative), beaten egg, nutmeg and some seasoning to taste.
  5. For the cheese sauce, melt the butter in a medium saucepan, add the flour and cook gently for 30 seconds. Gradually stir in the milk, bring to the boil and leave to simmer gently over a very low heat for 10 minutes, stirring now and then, until slightly reduced and thickened. Stir in the cream, most of the parmesan (or alternative) and some seasoning to taste.
  6. Heat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/gas 6. Spoon 2 slightly heaped tablespoons of the filling in a short line across the centre of each pancake. Fold the sides of the pancakes over the ends of the filling, then roll up into neat parcels.
  7. Spread the tomato sauce over the base of a large, shallow ovenproof dish. Arrange the pancakes in the dish, seam-side down, then pour over the cheese sauce. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese, then bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes until bubbling and golden brown.
You also need
  1. Large square of muslin and a digital probe thermometer
  2. The longer you leave the ricotta to drain, the firmer it will become. After 8-10 minutes the curds are soft and can be eaten as a dessert, sprinkled with caster sugar. After 40-60 minutes, they will be firm enough to cook with. I like to use white pepper here as you can’t see it in the cheese sauce.
  3. Make the ricotta up to 48 hours in advance and keep covered in the fridge. Make the pancakes up to 24 hours in advance, or freeze them, wrapped in a double layer of cling film, for up to 1 month. The tomato sauce can also be made up to 48 hours in advance, kept covered in the fridge.
Adapted from Delicious Magazine
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