Cannelloni di Crespelle
This was always one of my favorite dishes to show someone how to make because it is simple, delicious and works the same as pasta. Unlike traditional cannelloni recipes, this one uses a crêpe instead of pasta. The filling can be anything really, but I have grown fond of my tofu-spinach mixture which tastes quite close to the a Florentine mix of spinach and ricotta cheese. The filled crespelle are placed in a baking dish, topped with a béchamel sauce and some tomato sauce before heading to a hot oven to brown. It is a hearty dish that will take you directly to the Florentine countryside. At first glance, you may be thinking this is too complicated to make. Get those thoughts out of your head. Once you have the béchamel sauce and crêpes made, the rest is quite simple. Try serving this dish to someone who thinks plant-based cooking is boring – I guarantee they will change their mind instantly. Yield: makes about 4-6 large crespelle
- 1 recipe vegan béchamel sauce
- 1 recipe crespelle
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 600 grams fresh spinach
- 200 grams firm tofu, drained and crumbled
- 2 tablespoons tahini
- 4 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, grated
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- zest of one lemon
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Start with your béchamel sauce. If it isn’t already warm, then go ahead and do that now. Just make sure you use a double boiler or use low heat on your stovetop and whisk the sauce periodically. Once the sauce is warmed, divide into three equal parts. Add 1 tablespoon tomato paste to one of your portions and keep the remainder of the sauce warm.
- Now, let’s start making the filling by wilting your spinach over medium heat. Squeeze out as much water as possible from the wilted spinach. Roughly chop the spinach.
- Add the crumbled tofu to a bowl, then mix in the tahini, nutritional yeast and chopped shallots. Mix well.
- Add the grated garlic, seasoning, lemon zest and lemon juice to the tofu mixture. Mix well and then add the chopped spinach and leave as is or process in a food processor for a smoother texture (I like to do this step for this recipe).
- Remember that béchamel…Well, go ahead and add the other third to the filling and mix well.
- At this point we can begin to make our filled cannelloni. Lay a crespelle in front of you. Place a couple of heaping spoons of filling along the bottom third of the crespelle. Roll the bottom part of the crespelle over the filling, then fold in the sides to enclose the filling. Finish rolling up the crespelle. Place on a parchment paper lined plate and continue with the remaining crespelle and filling.
- Preheat your oven to 220° C and use the only the top burner from your oven.
- Get your baking dish out and place 2 tablespoons of your reserved béchamel on the bottom of the pan.
- Place the crespelle in the pan on top of the béchamel layer. Cover with the remaining béchamel and the tomato paste coated béchamel.
- Get your baking dish into the oven, making sure to place the baking dish in the upper third of your oven. Set your timer for 12 minutes (maybe go get a coffee or tea, but don’t stray too far as these crespelle will burn quickly if you forget about them or don’t hear your timer).
- Remove from the oven, cool about 10 minutes and enjoy.
Jack’s Fresh Tip
Mix in some other greens, herbs or vegetables to create an entirely new dish. Just make sure everything is chopped up relatively fine, or placed in a food processor to create a smooth texture. You can substitute an onion for the shallot. You can use frozen spinach in this recipe if that is easier. Just make sure it is well defrosted and all the water is squeezed from it. There is no need to cook it as frozen spinach is already wilted.
This is a Sample Recipe
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