Butternut squash Florentine crespelle

By Giulia Scarpaleggia •

Butternut squash are plentiful in the autumn and when roasted make for extremely colourful & warming dishes. Giulia shares a delicious Florentine recipe for a cannelloni style crespelle.


Crespelle with ricotta and spinach are a typical dish of the Florentine tradition: they look like thin pancakes and are filled and rolled up as cannelloni, as they were fresh pasta.

Apparently Caterina de' Medici, a Florentine noblewoman who married the future king of France Henry II in 1533, was so attached to her native food that she took a crowd of Florentine chefs and our crespelle to France, later named by our transalpine cousins crêpes. Nowadays you can order crespelle alla fiorentina in many traditional taverns in Florence, but it's worth losing some time and to make them at home, to celebrate a special day, or just to treat your beloved ones with a rich first course.

Once you know how to make and roll up crespelle, you can set tradition aside for a moment, play with the ingredients and fill them with your favourite seasonal vegetables or even a meat or fish sauce.



Now, in autumn, pumpkins and butternut squashes are generously piled in markets and vegetable stalls. Roasted butternut squash with a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, sea salt and black pepper is my favourite autumn side dish. You can use leftover roasted butternut squash or even roast a whole tray of squash just for this recipe, saving a few slices for your next meal.

The sweetness of butternut squash is well balanced by a generous handful of grated pecorino cheese, a Tuscan sheep milk cheese, though you can substitute it with any other savoury cheese, from Parmigiano to mature cheddar.

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients for the crespelle

2 free range eggs

2 heaped tablespoons of flour (about 60 g)

1 pinch of salt

200 ml of whole milk

Ingredients for the filling

350 g of butternut squash

Sea salt

Black pepper

Extra virgin olive oil

150 g of fresh ricotta cheese

1 free range egg

50 g of grated aged pecorino cheese (or Parmigiano, or mature cheddar...)

1 pinch of salt

Ingredients for the béchamel sauce

50 g of butter

60 g of flour

500 ml of whole milk

1 pinch of salt

Grated nutmeg

For the garnish

Grated aged pecorino cheese (or Parmigiano, or mature cheddar...)

Extra virgin olive oil

Sage leaves


Make the pancake batter a bit in advance and leave it to stand for at least half an hour.

Beat the eggs with salt and flour avoiding any lumps, then incorporate the milk in a thin stream.

For the filling, preheat the oven to 180°C.

Rinse the butternut squash, cut it in a half, remove all the seeds and slice into 1 cm thick slices. Season with sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Roast the butternut squash for about 30 minutes, until soft and slightly golden and caramelized on the edges.

Blend the butternut squash with a mixer, then mix it in a bowl with the mashed ricotta, the grated pecorino, a pinch of black pepper and salt. Taste the squash and ricotta filling to check if it is savoury enough, then stir in a beaten egg.

Now make the béchamel sauce. Melt the butter in a saucepan. When melted spoon in the flour and whisk for a few minutes until golden and toasted. Pour in the cold milk in a thin stream, stirring constantly to avoid lumps.

Cook the béchamel sauce for a few minutes until thickened and season with a good pinch of salt and nutmeg.

Grease a 14 cm wide non-stick frying pan with a knob of butter, heat it on medium flame and cook the crespelle for a few minutes on each side, until golden brown (use about 3 tablespoons of batter to make 7 to 8 pancakes).

Spread each pancake with the butternut squash and ricotta filling and roll them up.

Put the crespelle in a baking dish previously spread with a few tablespoons of béchamel sauce.

Drizzle the crespelle with the leftover béchamel sauce and sprinkle with more grated pecorino cheese. Scatter a few sage leaves on top and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.

Bake in the preheated oven to 180°C for about 20 minutes until golden brown and bubbling on the sides.

Eat the crespelle warm just out of the oven, or warm them the day after with a dash of milk.

For more inspiring butternut squash recipes visit Great British Chefs site.


Giulia Scarpaleggia

Giulia, is a 31 year old Tuscan food blogger who started her blog in February 2009.  In January 2012 she turned her passion into a job and is now a freelance food writer, developing recipes for magazines & food companies. She's also a Tuscan cooking class instructor for tourists in Tuscany. Her book, I love Toscana, was published in November 2012.

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