I saw Mary Napolitano make these on My Grandmother’s Ravioli, a kindofa cool program on Cooking Channel hosted by Mo Rocca, and knew we would be trying them.
In each episode, Mo visits with different grandparents in their kitchens and learns to cook their special recipe(s), everything from rabbit cacciatore and Filipino-style paella to this really fine combination of French and Italian cuisine. And, I gotta be totally honest here, using crêpes in place of the pasta is sheer genius!
Or, that could just be my french side speaking. Irregardless, try this, I believe you will like it! I used (mostly) Mary’s crêpe and cheese filling recipes, but my own doctored sauce.
•1 cup flour
•1 egg, lightly beaten
•1 cup milk (I used whole, but skim is fine)
•2 tbsp olive oil
•1/4 tsp salt (or seasoned salt)
•1 pint part-skim ricotta
•8 oz shredded mozzarella
•3/4 cup Parmesan
•1 teaspoon fresh parsley, chopped
•Salt and pepper
•2 eggs, lightly beaten
•1/4 cup Parmesan
•1 tsp Cajun Power Spicy Garlic Pepper Sauce – or your preferred hot sauce (optional)
Note: I made mine meatless to have a vegetarian (if cheese-heavy) dinner, Mary’s called for adding cooked ground beef. In truth, Rich liked these crêpes, but wished they’d had a meat sauce, yo take that for what it’s worth.
•2 medium onions, diced
•3 cloves garlic, minced
•8 oz ‘shrooms, sliced
•Dash Amontillado or red wine
•1 (24 oz) jar sauce pasta sauce
•1/2 jar water
•1/2 tsp dried basil
•1/2 tsp dried oregano
•1/2 tsp dried parsley
•1 bay leaf
•1/2 tsp seasoned salt
•1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper
•1 tbsp sugar
•Dash 21 Seasoning Salute (optional)
•1/2 tsp Earl’s or your favorite hot sauce
•Parmesan cheese, shaved or grated
•Shredded mozzarella cheese
First, the sauce:
Warm the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat, then add the onion and garlic and sauté for five minutes.
Add the ‘shrooms and a drizzle of Amontillado or red wine and sauté for another ten minutes, or until the ‘shrooms are nicely cooked and most of the liquid has been reduced.
Stir in the remaining ingredients, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about half an hour.
Remove the bay leaf and Sset aside to cool a bit while you make the crêpes.
Next step, crêpes:
Whisk together the flour and egg in a large bowl (my 8-cup Pyrex measure worked a treat) – it’ll be quite crumbly.
Gradually pour in the milk and stir to combine – you’ll now have something more like a batter.
Add one tablespoon of the olive oil and the salt, then beat or whisk until you have a nice, smooth batter – like this:
I’ve been making these tasty little pancakes off-and-on for more years than I care to count, and I still, to this day, screw up the first crêpe or (sometimes) five I make of a batch.
Mebbe I should make them more often. I don’t know; I normally just double the batter amount called for and work through it. For this recipe, even with my error(s), I ended up with enough workable crêpes to make a casserole of eight nicely filled – more than enough for the two of us for dinner, and a few leftovers as well.
Anyway, heat a bit of the remaining olive oil in a flat skillet or crêpe pan, then add approximately 1/8 cup (two tablespoons) of the batter to the pan – tilting the pan as you add it so that the batter spreads out evenly.
As you can see, this bit takes a bit of practice.
Irregardless, continue on by cooking the crêpe for about two minutes, until the bottom is just lightly browned, then flip it and cook the other side for a minute or two.
See? It does get easier as you go!
Transfer the completed crêpes to a rack and continue with the remaining batter. Feel free to munch on the not-so-nice ones.
Sauce made, crêpes made, it’s time for the cheese and the big finish!
Stir the cheeses together in a bowl with the eggs and seasonings until well blended.
Heat the oven to 350º.
Add two to three tablespoons of the cheese mixture a little off-center in each crêpe, then roll up, gently pushing the crêpe to even out the filling distribution.
Arrange the rolled crêpe, seam-side down, in a baking dish. Ms. Napolitano specified and 11×17 pan, but mine fit nicely in an 11-3/4 x 8-3/4 pan. No doubt she is far more adept than I at making the crêpes… whichever sized pan you choose, arrange the filled crêpes side by each as shown.
Spoon the sauce over the crêpes – I made sure to add some to the sides of the pan as well, then top with the shaved or grated Parmesan and the mozzarella.
Bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes, until the cheese is nicely melted and the sauce bubbly.
Remove from the oven and let rest for five or ten minutes before serving.
Nice. I may never go back to pasta manicotti. We had ours with a simple romaine salad and that sweet & tangy celery seed salad dressing, and I didn’t miss the meat sauce a bit, tho’ Rich did.
This recipe might be ripe for variations: spinach filling? Seafood? White sauce?
Just think of the possibilities.
And the chance to prefect my crêpe-making technique.