Crespelle with Asparagus and Zucchini Blossoms

I love this late-spring recipe. It gives luxurious results and is also fun to assemble. In fact I made it with my kids a few times this year. It takes 1 hour to prep, and another 20 minutes to bake, but if you have the time it’s worth it.

I think you could make this with any combination of 2 or 3 delicate spring vegetables and it would be great: baby spinach, morel mushrooms, fresh artichoke hearts, zucchini, fresh peas.

You may be wondering … what are crespelle? They are simply the Tuscan version of a savory crêpe. For more on why Tuscans think the French stole their cuisine check out this post on bechamel sauce!

SERVES 4 – PREP TIME: 1 HOUR – COOKING TIME: 20 MIN
INGREDIENTS FOR THE BECHAMEL
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 1/4 c. flour
  • 750 ml (3 c.) milk
  • nutmeg, salt & pepper

For instructions on how to make the bechamel, here is the recipe

INGREDIENTS FOR THE CRESPELLE
  • 3 eggs
  • 200 g. or 1 1/3 c. flour (to make them gluten free I used Schar Mix It! Universal, but any mix should do)
  • 350 ml or 1 1/2 c.milk
  • salt, a pinch
  • 1 tbs butter, to grease your pan
INGREDIENTS FOR THE VEGETABLES & GENERAL ASSEMBLY
  • 12-16 asparagus spears, chopped fine
  • 8-10 zucchini blossoms
  • 2 shallots, chopped fine
  • 3 tbs butter (1 tbs to sautee the vegetables, 2 tbs to put on top before baking)
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 100 g. or 1/2 c. grated parmigiano or grana padano cheese
INSTRUCTIONS
  • Prepare the bechamel sauce and while you are cooking and stirring it, prepare your shallots and asparagus, and clean your zucchini blossoms (little garden bugs seem to like the blossoms as a refuge, so make sure the insides are clean). Leave half of the zucchini blossoms whole (it’s ok if they petals have broken), and chop the other half, and make sure to use the stems too.
  • Sautè the asparagus, shallots and half of your zucchini blossoms in butter, letting them sizzle for 3 minutes or so. Salt and pepper to taste, take the pan off the burner and put a lid on it as it waits in standby.
  • Grate the cheese and set aside.
  • Preheat the oven to 180°C / 350°F. Place the rack in the lower third of the oven.
  • Prepare your crespelle batter: put the flour in a medium bowl, then add the eggs, one at a time, as you whisk them and gradually mix them with a little flour. Add the salt and slowly add the milk as you whisk to avoid clumps.
  • Make your crespelle: heat a heavy-bottomed skillet (I swear by my cast-iron one). Put your hand about 1 inch away from the skillet, and when it starts to feel too hot after a few seconds near the skillet, we’re ready to go. Place the 1 tbs of butter on a paper towel folded into a small square, and quickly rub it on the skillet to grease it. You don’t want to melt all of the butter on the skillet now – you’ll need it to regrease the skillet every 3 or 4 crespelle.
  • Holding the skillet in one hand at a slight angle, pour a small ladle of batter on to the pan as you turn it so the batter covers most of the skillet.
  • When the edges start to turn golden (usually 1-2 minutes), use a long spatula to flip the crespelle and cook the other side for another 60 seconds. Remove from the skillet, and repeat until you have made all of the crespelle (it should make 12-16).
  • Stuff the crespelle: put a few spoons of bechamel on half of the crespella, add a spoonfull of vegetables, and another spoonfull of cheese sprinkled on top. Fold the empty side over the stuffed side (you’ve folded it in half), and then fold it over itself again (you’ve now folded into a quarter with a 90° angle). Repeat to stuff all of the crespelle, keeping in mind you need to leave aside 6 tbs of bechamel, 2-3 tbs of cheese, and 4 tbs of veggies to top the finished product.
  • Place the crespelle, slightly overlapping, in a large baking pan that you’ve buttered or lined with parchment. Top with (in this order): veggies, cheese and bechamel.
  • Place the remaining whole zucchini blossoms on top, then little pieces of the 2 tbs of butter you’ve set aside, and a pinch of salt.
  • Bake for 20 minutes, or until it is bubbly and the blossoms on top are golden.
  • Let sit 5 minutes before serving. Great with a simple mixed green salad for a complete meal.

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