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Classic Pancakes Stuffed with Spinach and Ricotta (Panzerotti Tradizionali)

by Michaela, Emanuela and Romina Chiappa from Simply Italian: Cooking at Home with the Chiappa Sisters

Classic Pancakes Stuffed with Spinach and Ricotta from The Chiappas' Simply Italian cookbook. This tasty Italian main course substitutes the better-know canelloni with crepes to make a wonderful savoury dish.

From the book

Michaela, Emanuela and Romina Chiappa


We loved these as children and would help Mum stir the mixture and roll them up – we called them ‘roly-poly’s’! They’ve also a great way of using up any leftover mixture filling from making tortelli.

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For the Pancakes:
120g plain flour
240ml milk
1 medium egg, preferably free-range or organic
a knob of unsalted butter, if needed
For the filling:
240g spinach leaves, washed and patted dry
125g ricotta cheese
125g mascarpone cheese
60g freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for topping
fine salt and freshly grated black pepper
freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
For the basic white sauce:
80g salted butter
80g plain flour
800ml milk
fine salt and freshly ground black pepper


For the basic white sauce:

Melt the butter in a large non-stick saucepan over a medium heat. Whisk in the flour to form a smooth paste. Remove the pan from the heat and slowly add the milk, continuously whisking to incorporate. Taking it off the heat will help you achieve a smooth consistency.

Return to the heat, and whisk until it has formed a thick sauce. Season to taste, with a little salt and lots of pepper.

For the filling:

Steam the spinach in a large covered saucepan with a little water for about 5 minutes, until the spinach has wilted. Remove from the heat, drain and leave to cool (you can speed up the cooling process by running cold water over the spinach). When the spinach is cool enough to handle, squeeze to remove all the water. Place the spinach in a bowl, mix with the cheese and season with salt, pepper and a little nutmeg.

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas 4.

For the pancakes:

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, milk and egg until you have a smooth batter. The batter shouldn’t be too thick, so add a splash more milk if needed.

Heat a good-quality non-stick frying pan (15—20cm in diameter) over a high heat. (A good pan is the secret to successful pancakes!) Pour a ladleful of the batter into the pan and tilt the pan from side
to side to spread the batter out to the edges. Leave the pan on the heat for 2 to 3 minutes, until the pancake has set. Flip over the pancake and cook on the other side for about 2 minutes. Repeat
with the rest of the batter. If you find the pancakes are sticking to the pan, melt a little butter in the pan before adding the batter.

To assemble:

Grease an ovenproof dish with butter. Spread each pancake with 2 tbsp of the filling, right up to the edges. Roll up the pancakes and place in the prepared dish. Don’t worry if there is space between each pancake, it’s actually good to leave a little room for the white sauce to spread around them. (If you’re making this for a dinner party, keep the pancakes in the fridge until your guests are ready to eat before continuing with the method).

Reheat the white sauce, as it will have gone cold and hard – loosen it with a little milk if needed. Pour over the pancakes and sprinkle with Parmesan. cook in the over for 15 minutes, then grill for 5 minutes, to brown the top.


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From the book: Simply Italian: Cooking at Home with the Chiappa Sisters

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