When, a few weeks ago, favourite son came to visit from London, I asked him, as one does on such occasions, what it was that he would like me to cook for him. Favourite son is well aware that I like to spoil him more than he cares to be spoiled by me (i.e. that it makes me happy to make him happy) and so, bless his cotton-pickin’ socks, he blithely came out with “Crespelle alla fiorentina”. I could see that, to his eyes, this dish is ‘fussy’ enough to be ‘special’ and easy enough to be do-able. (Such a clever boy … just like his Ma).
This is very much a step-1, step-2 recipe and does require time. No quickie contemplated here, not in the kitchen, and not elsewhere. But if you ARE up for the specifics of step-1, step-2, step-3, well, it really is one of those dishes that are part of my ‘food to put you in a good mood’ repertoire.
Step 1: bechamel, Step 2: crepes, Step 3: tomato sauce, Step 4: spinach and ricotta and Step 5: assembling and baking in the oven.
Béchamel is easy to make … so make that first.(https://myhomefoodthatsamore.wordpress.com/2011/03/17/the-queen-of-sauces/)
Crepes are also easy to make … so make them too …(https://myhomefoodthatsamore.wordpress.com/2010/11/09/the-peerless-pancake/)
Other ingredients: You will need grated parmesan (at least 100g), roughly 300g ricotta, 2 eggs, 1kg spinach, butter, nutmeg, 1 onion, olive oil, tomato sauce (passata di pomodoro).
You will need to wilt the spinach first … I ended up with three ‘balls’ of wilted spinach which I then roughly chopped up. Grate the parmesan … I can’t tell you exactly how much, it’s something one does ‘by eye’. Do not stint on the parmesan. Any dish stands to benefit by a generous inclusion of parmesan.
Chop the onion for the tomato sauce …Dribble the olive oil into the saucepan in which you will cook the tomato sauce … First add the onions, sweat them until soft (and this can take at least 10 minutes, longer than you think, so be warned). Then add the tomato sauce and cook for about 15-20 minutes. Taste and add salt and maybe a pinch of sugar too. This will depend on the tomatoes … When you judge the tomato sauce to be ready, set it aside.
Sauté the spinach in a pan with the butter, and add salt and pepper and a twist of nutmeg. You are not ‘cooking’ the spinach, just giving it a bit of taste with the butter and nutmeg. When done (about 2 minutes), transfer the spinach to a large miximg bowl.
Add the ricotta and beaten egg mixture to the spinach:
Time to cook:
Put a little of the bechamel sauce on the bottom of the oven dish … And start filling in the crepes. The crepe is round. Plonk a large tablespoonful of the spinach and ricotta mixture bang in the middle of the crepe.
PS I think that name for these crepes has to do with their spinach content. Florentine cooking and spinach have been having an ongoing love affair for many a decade now … perhaps even centuries.