Saturday, January 3, 2009

Spinach Crepes with Herbed Ricotta and Mushroom Sauce

On January 1st, you are supposed to eat some greens in order to bring in money during the new year. In the South, that means collard greens or turnip greens, traditionally. More recently, I've just been making a salad. So, this year I got a little more creative, and cooked our symbolic cash into some delicious whole-wheat crepes. This recipe makes your crepes bright green, which is lots of fun.

If you're thinking, "Hmmm...crepes. Aren't those French? That sounds hard..." you'd be selling yourself short. If you can make pancakes, you can handle this. The recipe here is a slightly simplified version of one in Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Suppers (one of my favorite cookbooks), and as in her instructions you'll layer your crepes with ricotta - kind of like a mini-lasagna - and bake them, in contrast to the usual crepe-folding procedure.

King Arthur brand White Whole Wheat Flour is perfect for this recipe. It is whole grain, but made from mild white wheat instead of the coarser, nuttier red wheat we are mostly accustomed to. Wonder Bread and all of its white bread cousins are actually red wheat stripped of most of its grain characteristics (especially the fiber), so this is definitely not the same thing. You can order it online, but I either got it at Trader Joe's or Whole Foods, can't remember which.

SPINACH CREPES WITH HERBED RICOTTA AND MUSHROOM SAUCE

Crepes:
1 bunch of spinach or a 7 oz. bag of salad spinach, washed but not dried
sea salt
1.5 cups milk
3 eggs
3 tablespoons melted butter
1 tablespoon tarragon
1 cup whole wheat flour (preferably white whole wheat)

Ricotta Filling:
2 cups ricotta cheese
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
3 or 4 tablespoons of chopped fresh herbs such as parsley, basil, thyme, rosemary, or marjoram
1 tablespoon freshly chopped chives (tip: snip them with your kitchen scissors)
sea salt
pepper

Mushroom Sauce:
2 tablespoons olive oil
3-4 chopped green onion stems
1 lb. fresh mushrooms sliced 1/4 inch thick, you can mix different kinds of shrooms such as portobello, crimini, or white
pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon of any of the herbs used above
1/2 cup mushroom broth or cream of mushroom soup

1. Place your wet spinach into a big skillet, sprinkle with salt, and cook it for a few minutes until it turns dark green and limp. Put the cooked spinach into a blender (or food processor if you have one, unlike me) and add the milk, eggs, melted butter, and herbs. Puree until the spinach is in tiny little bits and the whole mixture looks green. Add the flour and a teaspoon of salt to the blender mixture and puree until it's smooth. Pour your crepe batter into a bowl and set it aside to rest for at least 20 minutes while you work on the ricotta and mushrooms.

2. Chop all the herbs you need for the ricotta, then mix all of the ricotta filling ingredients together in a bowl. Season to taste with salt and a little pepper. Set that aside, and do all your mushroom and green onion chopping.

3. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in an 8 inch (small) skillet (though I don't usually use it, teflon helps a lot here). Use a brush to coat the sides of the skillet with oil so your crepes won't stick. Stir the batter and pour 1/4-1/3 cup into the pan - not too much, you don't want these to be as thick as pancakes. Quickly swirl the batter in the pan or guide it into shape with a spoon, but stop prodding it when the bottom starts to form. Cook over medium heat for a few minutes. Lift an edge to peek underneath the crepe. When it starts to turn golden, flip it carefully with a spatula and briefly cook the second side. Transfer your cooked crepe to a 13x9" pan. Add a little more oil each time you make a new crepe to avoid sticking.

4. Spread the ricotta mixture onto each cooked crepe, making stacks layered crepe-cheese-crepe-cheese-crepe, etc. I make 2 stacks because that seems to fit in a 13x9" pan, but this is enough food to make 4 people very stuffed. Once your stacks are complete, place the pan in the oven and cook for 15-20 minutes at 375 degrees to make the cheese nice and melty.

5. While the crepes are in the oven, make your mushroom sauce. Melt the butter in a large skillet. Add the scallions and cook over medium heat for a minute, then add the mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper, and cook, tossing frequently until they begin to color. Add the wine, and turn up the heat. Once the liquid has reduced somewhat, add the mushroom broth or soup. I've used the organic mushroom soup that comes in a carton for this before, but I couldn't find it this time (went to 3 grocery stores) and I ended up using Amy's organic cream of mushroom soup. That worked well because it's not as gloopy as its Campbell's counterpart, and it added some thickness to the sauce. Anyhow, once your mushroom sauce is heated through, it is ready to go.

6. Place a crepe stack on each plate, or cut them into halves or triangles, and spoon the mushroom sauce on top. Enjoy your amazing meal!

Spinach will be in season here in February, so maybe I'll grab some at the farmer's market and make this again then. Leave enough time to babysit the crepes - they are not hard to manage, but cooking them one at a time in the skillet takes a little while. I promise the end result is worth it!

2 comments:

  1. P.S. I'm commenting on my own blog again to say that I bought this Deborah Madison cookbook last February when I was on jury duty. I never got empaneled, but I did plan dinner.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Very nice blog!!! I love to prepare some recipe that contain many mushrooms, i really like the flavor. Mushrooms combine with some ingredients are really delicous. So when i cook i usually add many mushrooms to my recipes and my husband is happy too.
    Actually i was looking information about how to buy viagra but i was entertainment reading this blog.

    ReplyDelete