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Cooking Italy: Crespelles with Prosciutto, Fresh Tomato and Mozzarella

by Angela Roberts on September 10, 2009

 Did you know that a crespelle is a crepe and originated in Italy, not in France. However, credit goes to France for running with them, and street corner “crepe stands” are common on the streets of Paris, while gelato shops are common in Rome. I can live with this.

If you like the idea of cheesy pasta, let me convince you that cheesy crepes are even better. These are “giddy” good. They deliver an Italian “just right” balance of flavors and in this case dreamy textures. Eight layers of crepes (that tastes like a light pasta) grab flavor from the prosciutto, creaminess from the mozzarella cheese, tang from the parmiggiano reggiano and sweetness from the tomato.

But, I need to set the scene for my husband’s comments: We have been up since 3:00 a.m., working at the Franklin Classic a 4-event race for Mercy Children’s Clinic. For the past several months I have worked behind the scenes coordinating/finding 250 volunteers to make this Labor Day event take place. It’s over now, and we should have just enough energy to eat crackers and cheese. But every few hours, I would traipse into the kitchen and fuss for 15 minutes, then go back and watch a movie. By 6:00 p.m. that little bit of fussing turned out this incredible Marcella Hazan selection of layered crespelles.

“Something is off. This just doesn’t seem RIGHT? We just came downstairs looking like we’re ready to sit and casually eat a bowl of cereal. But instead we’re eating this incredible stack of crepes layered with prosciutto, fresh tomato sauce, mozzarella. It doesn’t seem fair to eat like this every night, especially tonight, as if it’s nothing. This food should be eaten when there is something to celebrate.”

He went on and on as I sat there eating away, trying to figure out why we don’t get this in restaurants. Why is no one serving a stack of crepes in this Italian style? He’s wondering why we are eating this well at a messy table with no company. He didn’t know how easy it was to make, and that the SECRET of good Italian food is the right handful ingredients and the right recipe. Marcella Hazan delivers once again with perfection.


Impress your guests and make this the first course of a dinner party, giving everyone just a tiny wedge. Their palate will be stunned!

Or make it for your special other after you have them work no less than five different jobs following your adventures in volunteer work. They’ll forget the hard work and say yes again.

This is truly a meal a woman will love and a man will marry her for (or vice a versa).

Romaine lettuce, honey do, and crisped prosciutto make an incredible accompaniment.

The Process
There should be no less than 8 crepes (except here where there is 7 as number 8 was left on the stove to burn). There is no more than 1 tablespoon of tomato sauce between each layer. I bravely ventured away from Marcella’s suggestion of canned tomatoes to use my own garden San Marzanos. Sadly, I did not have buffalo mozzarella, but I freshly grated the best parmiggiano reggiano and soaked my ordinary mozzarella in olive oil.

The recipe calls for shaved prosciutto, but I just had it sliced super thin and was gingerly in my application.

This is an easy dish to make if you know how to make crepes, and buy good ingredients.

While the crepes were baking (15 minutes) I threw some prosciutto in a cast iron pan in oven, crisped it up and served it on romaine lettuce with melon balls and just a touch of olive oil and lemon (recipe coming).

Recipe for Crespelles with Prosciutto, Fresh Tomato and Mozzarella(adapted from Marcella Hazan’sEssentials of Classical Cooking

For the Crepes

1 cup milk
3/4 cup all purpose flour
2 eggs
1/8 teaspoon salt
butter for crepe pan

Add flour gradually to milk. Strain through a sieve to avoid lumps. Evenly blend.
Add eggs one at a time, beating them rapidly. Add salt.
(I allow to rest for 30 minutes, but Marcella’s recipe does not call for that. The rest helps the gluten soften; otherwise crepe could be tough.)
Butter the crepe pan.
The original recipe calls for 2 T of batter, which makes a very small crepe. I used a scant 1/4 cup, turn the crepe pan upside down back into bowl.
Stack, set aside.

For the Tomato Sauce

Ingredients

2/3 cup canned Italian tomatoes (I used fresh tomatoes)
3 cloves garlic
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt

Instructions

Take the tomato (if fresh, blanch, seed, chop). Saute garlic in olive oil, remove. Add tomatoes, salt, and cook until liquid is reduced about 15 minutes.
For the Filling

1/2 cup fresh mozzarella
prosciutto thinly sliced (6-8 slices)
3/4 cup tomato sauce
1/4 cup parmiggiano-reggiano

Assembly

Place first crepe on buttered baking dish. Layer with no more than 1 tablespoon tomato sauce, mozzarella and prosciutto. Keep in mind you will be making 8 layers, so go lightly on cheese. Sprinkle some parmiggiano-reggiano on each layer, but don’t go overboard.
Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees.

 

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

nthony holdsworth December 17, 2012 at 2:45 pm

I was so glad to find this recipe online on such an attractive website.
I have made this dish for painting students studying with me in Tuscany and for the Italian class I attend in San Francisco. Everyone raves about it. People keep wanting me to send them the recipe. Now, I can just direct them to here!

If you would like to view my recent paintings of Italy or a video of my 3 month painting trip check out my website.
Ciao,
Anthony Holdsworth

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