This came about from my unwillingness to give up my favourite Spanakopita filling from my pre-coeliac-diagnosis days. Spanakopita is a Greek spinach and cheese pie. Here, I've taken the same spinach and cheese mix, rolled it up in chickpea crepes and topped with tomato sauce.
I used to make this with buckwheat crepes and ended up making chickpea crepes this time somewhat by accident. Well almost - I didn't misread the label on the flour I was using, but I did forget to check the supplies in my pantry before doing the shopping. It turned out to be somewhat serendipitous as I think the chickpea flour actually results in a much better texture.
For a nut-free version, skip the pine nuts.
Serves 3-4 as a main or 6 as a starter
- olive oil
- 1 onion, finely diced
- 1 large bunch spinach or silverbeet, stems removed and finely chopped
- 2 eggs, lightly whisked
- 300g ricotta
- 120g fetta
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh mint, finely chopped
- a few pinches ground nutmeg
- a few pinches pepper
- 1 cup freshly grated parmesan, plus extra to serve
- 1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted (be careful, they burn easily)
- chickpea crepes (recipe below)
- tomato sauce (recipe below)
Preheat oven to 180˚C (350 F). Brush a baking dish (about 20cm x 30cm) lightly with olive oil.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Add spinach and cook until just wilted. Transfer onion and spinach to a colander and allow to drain and cool.
Meanwhile, mix together eggs, cheeses, herbs and spices. Stir in the cooled spinach mixture.
Spread a chickpea crepe flat and spoon 3-4 tablespoons (about 1/6 of the total filling, depending on how many crepes you have) of the mixture in a line down the middle. Sprinkle 1-2 teaspoons pine nuts over the top. Fold one side of the crepe over the filling, and roll towards the other side until you have a nice roll. Place roll in the baking dish with the 'loose' side down to hold the roll closed. Repeat with remaining crepes.
Bake in the oven until filling has cooked through, about 40 minutes. If crepes are starting to brown (check after about 20 minutes), cover the dish with a sheet of alfoil, pricked in a couple of places to let steam escape.
Serve with tomato sauce spooned over the top and sprinkled with parmesan cheese.
For dairy/lactose-free crepes, use a non-dairy milk such as soy.
Makes about 6 20cm crepes
- 1 cup chickpea flour
- pinch salt
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 3/4 cup milk
- canola oil
Combine flour and salt in a mixing bowl. In a smaller bowl, whisk together egg and milk. Add the liquids to the dry ingredients and whisk well until you have a smooth batter.
Heat a non-stick frying pan over a medium-high heat and add about 1 tablespoon oil to coat. Add about 1/2 cup (I use one ladle-full) of batter to the pan and swirl pan so batter spreads out to form a thin layer. For the spanakopita filled chickpea crepes, you want your crepes quite thin so you can roll them up; if the mixture isn't spreading out enough you can thin the batter by adding a little more milk. Cook until top has just set and underside is golden. This will only take a minute or two once your pan is hot. Flip and cook for another minute or so until golden on both sides. Set aside, atop some paper towel to drain any excess oil. Repeat until all batter is cooked, adding a little oil between crepes if needed.
Makes 2-3 cups
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 onion, finely diced
- 3 cloves garlic, finely diced or crushed
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano*
- 1/4 cup red wine (optional)
- 1 kg tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped**
- 1/2 cup fresh basil, finely diced*
- sugar (optional, if needed)
*Use fresh or dried herbs, depending on what's on hand. Just adjust the quantities (you'll need less dried than fresh) and add dried herbs earlier on in the cooking than fresh.
**The Former Chef blog provides a good set of instructions on How to Peel and Seed Tomatoes.
Heat olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add onion and saute until tender, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and dried herbs and cook for another minute or two until fragrant. If using wine, add this now and cook until pan is almost dry (otherwise go straight to the next step).
Add the tomatoes and cook until sauce has thickened. I find this can take up to about half an hour. 5-10 minutes before sauce is ready, stir in the fresh herbs. Add a few pinches each of salt and pepper, to taste. Taste the sauce and if it is tart add a little sugar - only about 1/4-1/2 teaspoon to start, then adjust as needed. If you accidentally make your sauce too sweet you can balance it out with a little lemon juice.
You can serve this sauce immediately, or keep it in the fridge for a few days.