Most people only think of cooking pancakes in February but a savoury pancake makes an excellent meal and the possibilities are endless. The recipe that Anna cooked had ham and cheese laid over the pancake before it was rolled up and heated through in a pan to melt the cheese. Our version is a great way to use lots of different veg and once you've made it for the first time, this could easily be knocked up for a family crowd pleaser mid week.
Makes 4 pancakes
For the pancake
- 1 small bunch of parsley, leaves picked (or a handful of spinach)
- 200ml whole milk
- 100g wholemeal flour
- 2 medium eggs
- 1 tbsp cooking oil
For the filling
- 400g ricotta (or cottage cheese)
- 1 tsp cider vinegar (or the juice and zest of half a lemon)
- a pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
- 1 onion
- 1 fennel bulb (keep the fronds for the salad if you have them)
- Add the egg, milk, parsley and a pinch of salt to a bowl and pulse with a stick blender until everything turns a pale green (if you don't have a stick blender you can finely chop the parsley and then use a whisk to combine the ingredients)
- Slowly add the pancake liquids to the flour in a large bowl, whisking all the time until smooth and fully combined.
- Add half a teaspoon of cooking oil to a very hot frying pan and ladle in just enough of the pancake batter to coat the pan. Leave to cook until you can see no uncooked batter on top and then gently remove the pancake to a plate or tray so that you can repeat this step until all four pancakes are cooked. This can all be done well ahead of when you'd like to eat.
- For the ricotta filling, dice your fennel bulb and onion into rough 1/2cm cubes, lay them out on a roasting tray, drizzle with oil and roast at 200c for 30mins. Once soft and a little caramelised, remove from the tray and leave to cool a little.
- In a bowl, stir to combine the ricotta, vinegar (or lemon), nutmeg, a pinch of salt, the roasted vegetables and any herbs you might have to hand roughly chopped (any or all of mint, parsley, basil, rosemary, thyme or oregano would be great). Taste to make sure that the mix is seasoned enough, adding more lemon or salt if needed.
- Spoon your ricotta mix in a line across the middle of each pancake and roll it up.
Tip #1: You can serve this with a salad of leaves, tomatoes, or any fresh ingredients that you have to hand
Tip #2: If you're in need of a comforting meal, place the rolled up pancakes on a baking tray and cover in grated cheese. Melt under a hot grill for a few minutes before serving.
Tip #3: The roasted vegetables in the ricotta mix can vary with the seasons. Try pumpkin or leeks in autumn, courgettes with lots of chopped parsley in the summer... just experiment with whatever you have and if it works, I'm sure you'll cook it again and again.
The inspiration for this recipe
Paola (left) and Anna (right) at Anna's vineyard in north Italy