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Author Notes: I'm always in search of good vegetarian main dishes -- the kind that elicit oohs and ahhs when they land on the table. This is one such dish. Like delicate blintzes, the crespelle are filled with a pea and ricotta mixture that's spiked with leeks and topped with parmigiano and butter -- you can't go wrong with parmigiano and butter. I've made this with fresh peas, but I actually think it's better with the organic frozen variety, because the peas will soften more evenly. The crespelle proportions are from Marcella Hazan; while she recommends filling them with either meat or spinach and prosciutto, I prefer this lighter spring filling. - Rivka
Serves 6 as a main dish
For the Crespelle
- 1 cup milk
- 3/4 cup all purpose flour
- 2 eggs
- pinch salt
- 2 tablespoons butter, for cooking
- Pour milk into a medium bowl. Using either a fine mesh strainer or a sifter, sift flour gradually into milk, whisking diligently to avoid lumps. Add eggs one at a time and whisk after each addition to incorporate. Add salt, and mix to evenly distribute.
- Set a large shallow-lipped pan over medium low heat. Test pan by splashing a couple drops of water onto it; if water sizzles and disappears, you're good to go.
- Spread a bit of the butter around the pan, just enough to coat the bottom. Stir the batter once more, and add a small ladelful (about 2 tablespoons) of the batter to the pan. Immediately swirl the pan around to distribute the batter in a thin layer. Cook about 1 minute and 30 seconds on the first side, until the top starts to set. Use a wide spatula to flip crespelle over, and cook second side just until done, about 30 seconds. Remove to a large plate.
- Continue this process until all crespelle have been cooked. If not making the rest of the dish immediately, layer crespelle between sheets of wax paper to prevent them from sticking to each other.
For the Pea Filling
- 2 cups fresh ricotta
- 1 leek, cleaned, quartered the long way, and sliced finely
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, divided
- 2 cups organic frozen peas, thawed
- 1 pinch fresh grated nutmeg
- 1 cup grated parmigiano reggiano cheese
- salt and pepper
- Set a strainer lined with cheesecloth or a paper towel over a medium bowl. Add ricotta to strainer, and allow to strain about 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
- Meanwhile, in a large saute pan, add 4 tablespoons butter and heat on medium low. Add leeks and stir to coat with melted butter. Cook, stirring occasionally, until very soft, 7-10 minutes. Add a pinch of salt.
- Add thawed peas. Stir to incorporate with the leeks, and cook until peas are warmed through, about 5 minutes. Don't be too careful when stirring the pea mixture; while most peas will stay whole, some will be smashed. You want this to happen. Once peas have been cooked, add nutmeg and a pinch of pepper. Then taste and adjust for salt level.
- Remove ricotta from the fridge, and drain whey. Transfer warm pea mixture to that medium bowl, and add strained ricotta. Stir to incorporate -- again, you'll end up mashing some of the peas, and that's ok. Taste the mixture, and adjust seasoning as needed, maybe adding more salt, maybe a bit more pepper or nutmeg.
- When you're ready to bake assemble the dish, preheat the oven to 450. Butter a 9x13 inch baking dish generously. Put one of the crespelle on a large plate, and pile about 3 tablespoons of the mixture in a little log in the center. Fold the two edges of the crespelle over the filling, letter-style, and put the folded crespelle in the baking dish. Continue assembling in this manner, layering the folded crespelle slightly on top of each other in the dish. I layer the crespelle in two long rows of 8 or 9 each, overlapping as necessary. When all crespelle have been assembled and layered into the dish, pour the grated parmigiano cheese over top and dot with the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter. Bake about 12 minutes; cheese will have melted and crespelle will be warm all the way through. I prefer to serve this dish warm, but it can also be served at room temperature.
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Recipe for Spring Peas