Anelli di Ricotta e Spinaci

Spinach and Ricotta Pancakes

Another dish from Emilia Romagna, featuring a stuffing of spinach, ricotta and Parmesan, substituting pasta with pancakes. This dish is also found in Florence, under the title of Crespelle alla Fiorentina (I thought a display of my arcane intimacy with regional Italian cooking and dialects was in order). Frozen leaf spinach drained very well is good for this dish. You will also need a non-stick Swiss roll tray.

Ingredients

For the pancakes:

  • 150 g plain flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 400 ml water
  • 40 g butter, melted
  • a little salt

For the stuffing:

  • 150 g ricotta cheese
  • 150 g mascarpone cheese
  • 150 g Parmesan, grated
  • 150 g cooked spinach or Swiss chard, finely chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • freshly grated nutmeg

To serve:

  • 40 g butter
  • 40 g Parmesan, freshly grated

Method

For the stuffing, combine the cheeses in a food processor and purée, then mix with the spinach in a bowl, seasoning with salt, pepper and a little nutmeg. Refrigerate while you make the pancakes.

Combine the flour and eggs in a mixer then add the water and half the melted butter. Season and set aside. Preheat the oven to its maximum and put your Swiss roll tin into it to heat. Remove and butter lightly, then put a small ladle of the pancake batter in this and tilt to coat evenly. Return to the oven for 3 minutes or until set. Allow to cool a little and then repeat until you have one rectangular pancake per person.

To assemble, divide the stuffing into as many portions as you have pancakes. Lay one pancake with a long edge nearest you. Place a portion of the stuffing formed into a rough cylinder 1 cm in from this leading edge and stopping 1 cm from each end. Roll up the pancake to form a neat cylinder and fold in the ends. Refrigerate until you have made them all. These can be assembled up to a day ahead.

To cook and serve, preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4. Melt the butter, and use a little to butter a large gratin dish. Cut the pancake rolls into 2 cm deep cylinders and arrange these packed tightly in the gratin dish. Pour the remaining melted butter on top, and pour a few drops of water into the base of the dish to help prevent sticking and burning. Dust lightly with grated Parmesan, and bake, loosely covered, for 15 minutes or until a tested centrally placed cylinder is hot in the middle.

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