This manacotti dish uses Italian crepe like pancakes instead of pasta. They are light and delicious, yet filling. When one of my favorite Italian restaurants closed and I couldn't order them any more, I started making them myself. They can be made with different fillings and different sauces too! —Leith Devine
Mix all ingredients together in a blender and process until smooth. Let sit for 1/2 hour, refrigerated.
Melt a small knob of butter in medium size frying pan (non-stick is best). Add about 1/2 a ladle of batter and swirl quickly to coat. The crepes should be thin.
Cook the crepe until bubbles appear on the top uncooked side. Lift carefully to check for browning, and if browned, gently flip. Cook the other side for 1-2 minutes only. Repeat until batter is done. Stack them on a plate as you cook them.
Crepe Filling and Parmesan Bechamel
In a large frying pan, add olive oil and chopped onion. Cook on medium heat until onion is softened. Add garlic and spinach. Cook until spinach is wilted. Set aside to cool.
In a large bowl, combine ricotta cheese, chicken, cheeses, herbs, lemon zest and juice, salt and pepper. Add spinach mixture from frying pan. Combine with a spoon or clean hands. Taste for seasoning and add herbs, salt or pepper to taste. Add egg and combine again.
Grease a large baking dish. Take a crepe (either store bought or home made). Add 1 1/2 to 2 TB of filling in a log shape across the crepe, and roll tightly. Place in baking dish seam side down. Repeat until dish is full. Set aside and make the bechamel.
Parmesan Bechamel: Melt butter in a medium saucepan. Add flour. Over medium heat, stir constantly with a whisk for 2-3 minutes until flour has cooked. Do not brown.
Add milk gradually and whisk while sauce thickens. Lower heat to low. Stir in parmesan and asiago or mozzarella cheese, nutmeg, salt, and cayenne pepper. Remove from heat and taste to correct for seasoning.
Pour sauce over the crepes. Sprinkle with paprika and additional parmesan cheese.
Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until sauce is bubbly and slightly browned.
Variations: Add sauteed mushrooms to filling and/or sauce. Use ground chicken or veal in filling, or use spinach and asparagus. Use your favorite tomato sauce instead of bechamel.