I have made this dish a couple of times for Pancake Tuesday as I love to have a pancake main as well as desert! One of the best things about it is that many of the elements can be made beforehand. This year I made the pancake batter on Sunday, the pancakes and tomato sauce on Monday, then assembled, baked and served on Tuesday.
I was feeding six people after work on Tuesday night – hence no pictures! – so I did a double mixture of the pancake batter and also doubled the amount of Simple Tomato Sauce. The ricotta and spinach filling that I use isn’t a mile away from the one I normally make for Spanakopita and it’s also good when used to stuff cannelloni.
Ricotta and Spinach Pancake Bake
For the pancakes:
Plain flour – 200g
Salt – a pinch
Eggs – 2
Milk – 500ml
Butter – 1 tablespoon, melted
For the Simple Tomato Sauce:
Olive oil – 1-2 tablespoons
Onion – 1, peeled and finely chopped
Garlic – 2 cloves, peeled and sliced
Tinned plum tomatoes – 2 cans
Bay leaves – 2
Sugar – 2 teaspoons, or to taste
Sea salt, freshly ground black pepper
For the Ricotta and Spinach filling:
Spinach – 300g, washed and chopped
Ricotta – 250g
Eggs – 2
Onion – ½, peeled and chopped finely
Freshly grated nutmeg
Mozzarella Cheese – 100g, grated
Preheat the oven to 200°C.
To make the pancakes: Sieve the flour and salt in a bowl, make a well in the centre and break the eggs into it. Begin whisking the eggs, gradually incorporating the flour. Add the milk, little by little, and whisk until the batter is smooth and the consistency of single cream. Pour in the butter and mix well. Using a hot pan, cook the pancakes, stacking them as you make them between sheets of greaseproof paper. You should get at least 10 out of this mixture.
To make the Simple Tomato Sauce: Heat the olive oil in a heavy based frying pan. Add the onions and soften over a moderate heat for 3-4 minutes, add the garlic and continue to cook for another 3-4 minutes. Pour the tinned tomatoes into the pan, squashing them as you stir, add the bay leaf and sugar, and simmer for at least 15 minutes to concentrate the flavour. Season to taste and, if liked, purée until smooth.
To make the Ricotta and Spinach filling: Mix the spinach, ricotta, eggs and chopped onion together with a generous grating of nutmeg. Place a tenth of the filling on the first pancake, roll up neatly and put into a large deep ovenproof dish. Repeat for the rest of the pancakes.
Using a ladle, spread the tomato sauce over the filled pancakes and sprinkle liberally with Mozzarella. Bake in the oven for approximately 20 minutes. Serve with a leafy green salad.