These crespelle (aka Italian crepes) are simply delightful. A pumpkin and three cheese filling is rolled up in six buckwheat crespelle and then smothered with a rich cheese sauce, mozzarella cheese, browned butter and sage.
In Italy, they use crespelle (krehs-PEHL-lay) in the same way that you use pasta. Crespelles can be used to layer lasagnas, while sliced up they resemble fettucine noodles. Or they are served as rolled up sweet or savoury crepes. I could have gone either way quite honestly because I adore crepes or crespelle but as luck would have it I have a pie, tiramisu and syrup dumplings in the fridge and nothing to eat for dinner so savoury it was.
Pumpkin is one of the first vegetables that came to mind and it was what I had in the crisper, an ignored wedge of pumpkin that I worried might turn at any day. Into the oven it went in the morning while the batter rested in the fridge. I took out my trusty crepe pan, which lay neglected like the pumpkin in the back of the cupboard. Making crepes is therapeutic, you have to sit and wait but you can't go off and do anything too involved lest your crepes burn and become too crispy to roll.
It is a recipe with a lot of steps admittedly but it makes 6 large filled crepes from scratch and for us, that's two crepes for three people or a single crepe with salad for six for lunch. It is one of those delightful vegetarian dishes where you just don't miss meat - the rich cheese and garlic helps with that. For the crespelle, I used buckwheat flour and a little bit of plain flour. Chestnut flour is often used too that adds a slight sweetness to crespelle.
While we eat vegetarian food quite often because I really love vegetables, vegan is another matter. Now I'm going to tell you a story that perhaps paints me in a bad light, or at least demonstrates how hard headed and defiant I can be.
It was Mr NQN's brother Manu's birthday recently. He sent around an invitation to everyone. He was surprisingly organised with an outline with times, addresses and activities for the whole day of Manu festivities. It would start with sailing in the morning, a picnic at lunchtime and karaoke at night.
It was a fairly funny invitation-Manu had attached several images of karaoke and a picnic. I actually thought that they were picture of previous family picnics until I realised that they were pics from google images and that he had felt the need to show people what a picnic and karaoke looked like. I was in for the karaoke (my obsession) and lunch (my other obsession) until I read something on the invitation:
"Please bring food / drink to share (only vegan plant food. No meat, eggs, dairy, honey or animal products)."
I feel that I cater enough to vegan family gatherings and I am always happy to make a vegan dish but I did not like the idea of being told what I could eat. Because you know I am an adult and one that is stubborn AF. At first I thought I'd be agreeable but then I thought the whole invitation sounded a bit miserable (I mean really who cares what someone else is eating?) so I accepted the karaoke invitation and decided to eat what I wanted for lunch instead!
So tell me Dear Reader, what would you have done in the same situation? Do you prefer sweet or savoury crespelle?
Pumpkin, Brown Butter & Sage Crespelle
An Original Recipe by Lorraine Elliott
Preparation time: 45 minutes plus 1 hour waiting time
Cooking time: 45 minutes
Serves 3 people or 6 with salad/vegetables
- 2/3 cup chestnut or buckwheat flour
- 1/2 cup plain all purpose floor
- 1 1/4 cup milk
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 300g/10.6ozs. roasted pumpkin
- 200g/7ozs. ricotta cheese
- 100g/3.5ozs. brie cheese
- 75g/2.7ozs. grated cheddar or feta cheese
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
For Cheese Sauce
- 100g/3.5ozs. butter
- 2 tablespoons plain flour
- 1 cup milk, heated
- 1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
- 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, grated
- 1/4 cup finely chopped chives
Step 1 - First make the crepe batter. Place the two flours, milk, eggs and salt in a food processor and pulse until smooth. Pour into a measuring jug and refrigerate for 1 hour (you can make the crepes a day ahead).
Step 2 - Then place the pumpkin, three cheeses and garlic into a food processor and blend until smooth. Set aside.
Step 3 - You can also make the cheese sauce while you're waiting for the crepe batter to rest. Melt the butter in a small saucepan on medium high heat until it starts to smell nutty. Remove from heat and pour the browned butter into a jug (you'll use this for sprinkling on top before grilling).
Step 4 - Spoon 2 tablespoons of browned butter back into the saucepan. Then add the flour stirring it through the butter and cooking it with a flat bottomed spatula or wooden spoon for a minute. Switch to a whisk and add the hot milk in 3 lots whisking between each addition. Then add the cheese and stir through until melted.
A few people said that these looked like Donald Trump crepes!
Step 5 - Make the crepes. Heat a crepe pan on high heat and add small dabs of butter and oil. Pour the crepe batter into the centre of the pan-I hold the jug with one hand and the crepe pan with the other hand and tilt it so that the batter reaches out to all sides. You should get 6 crepes from this.
Step 6 - Preheat the grill on high. Spray a medium sized baking dish with oil and divide the pumpkin filling among the six crepes rolling them up and placing them next to each other in the dish. Spread the cheese sauce on top and then sprinkle with mozzarella, sage leaves and drizzle over some of the reserved browned butter. Grill until browned. Sprinkle with chives.