Pumpkin and ricotta crespelle
I’m a big fan of how traditional recipes get around in Europe. While most of us think of crepes as a French thing and pasta as an Italian thing, you will often find pasta on a French cafe menu and crepes on Italian menus. Crepes, or the Italian version, crespelle, can be eaten both in the sweet and the savoury form. Predictably, they contain many of the same fillings as cannelloni – spinach and ricotta, bolognaise and béchamel, sweet, spiced ricotta et cetera. However, I always find making a batch of crepes far more approachable than making a pasta dough and forming cannelloni tubes. They can also be formed in different shapes – triangles or tubes, such as in this recipe – and they can be layered in a springform tin to make a savoury crepe layer-cake version of a lasagne.
This recipe uses the well-loved combination of pumpkin, ricotta, sage, butter and parmesan. For the photos for this recipe, I selected a pumpkin that was a little too yellow and not quite lush enough for my liking. Since then, I’ve been cutting open all the varieties I have grown and I now have a new favourite for this dish. A French heirloom variety named Galeux d’Eysines. She is a lovely salmon-coloured pumpkin, disfigured by warts. The warts are actually just explosions of sugar making their way to the surface. The flesh is sweet and a good deep orange that roasts into a deliciously smooth texture. In the words of my family members, it is the perfect-textured pumpkin. So make a note for after winter to get hold of some of her seeds and grow a vine in your backyard. You won’t be disappointed.
The other thing I love most about this dish is the fact I can cut it into little turrets. This allows the top of each third to get a little crispy and add a caramel taste to the filling and a crispness to the edges of the crepe. I am sure it could be cooked as whole rolls or even filled triangles, but I would then be tempted to top with a little béchamel as there would be too much crepe exposed and it might become a bit dry. So for a little change to a tried-and-true flavour combination, give these guys a roll.
Time: 60 minutes preparation + 30 minutes cooking
- 50g plain flour
- pinch of salt
- 2 large eggs
- 300ml milk, plus a little extra for thinning
- 50g unsalted butter, melted
- Sieve the flour into a mixing bowl. Add the salt and eggs, mix a little, then add the milk. Whisk well and then add the melted butter. Whisk until smooth. Allow the batter to rest for 15 minutes.
- Heat a crepe pan and grease with a little butter. Pour in the crepe batter to just cover the bottom of the pan. If it seems a bit thick, add a little more milk. Cook until lightly coloured, flip, colour lightly and turn onto a rack to cool.
- Keep cooking until all the batter is used.
- 2kg pumpkin
- splash of olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 5 garlic cloves
- 1 small bunch sage
- 200g ricotta
- 200g grated parmesan
- 100g butter
- 50g parmesan in a piece for shaving
- Preheat the oven to 200ºC.
- Chop the pumpkin into pieces and place in a baking tray with the oil and salt and pepper. Add the garlic cloves and some of the sage leaves and roast until tender. The time will depend on the variety of pumpkin. Allow to cool, squeeze the garlic cloves out of their skins, then
- add these to the ricotta and parmesan. Add in the roasted pumpkin and season to taste.
- Fill the crepes, working into a log shape. Cut each log into three and stand the pieces on a greased baking dish. Top with knobs of half the butter.
- Bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until hot and a little bit crispy.
- When nearly ready, warm a pan on top of the stove, brown the remaining butter with the rest of the sage leaves and pour this mixture over the crepes. Top with shaved parmesan.
This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on May 21, 2022 as "Roll with it".
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