Today I’m excited to share this recipe as part of an ongoing partnership with DeLallo Foods. As always, all opinions written are purely our own. We’re incredibly grateful for opportunities like these that allow us to continue sharing delicious recipes with you, so thank you for supporting us and the brands we love.
Panigacci may sound fancy, but just think of this as a savory Italian crepe cake. The process is very similar in fact, the panigacci are made almost exactly like crepes (the batter is eggless, however). The pasta is then layered with a savory filling of pesto and ricotta cheese, and topped with grated parmesan before it is baked and served warm atop a bed of marinara.
We’ve made a simpler, un-layered version of this (that we called Testaroli) before, inspired by a dish we enjoyed on our honeymoon in Italy. From the little information I was able to dig up on testaroli and panigacci, the main differences are the origins (they each trace roots back to a different small town along the Ligurian coast of Italy) as well as the final presentation. Testaroli are often cut into rhombuses (or parallelograms? Help, I’m having high school geometry flashbacks!) and then boiled before being tossed in pesto or another sauce for serving, whereas panigacci are served whole. Technically I think you could call this dish either, but I’m going with panigacci.
Traditionally testaroli and panigacci are made in a wood-fired oven using a terra-cotta cooking vessel called a testa, that looks a lot like the drip tray of a terra cotta pot. The testas are heated and the batter is spread into them in a thin layer, where they cook in the hot oven. Since I don’t have a wood fired oven nor a testa on hand, I had to make due with a stove and a small non-stick skillet. The batter is slightly thicker than a typical crepe batter, so the crepes are thicker and take a bit longer to cook, but you’ll know when they are done when the top is evenly opaque and the bottom is speckled with golden brown spots. You can cook them slightly longer for crispy edges (which I loved), or just until cooked through for a softer, more tender pasta.
We found the pesto alone to be too oily as a filling, and resolved that by mixing it with ricotta cheese, almost like a lasagna filling. Served atop a bed of bright tomato sauce it makes for a stunning presentation. And while it is time consuming to make all the individual crepes, they can be made ahead of time and then layered and baked prior to serving.
When given the choice I’ll always choose fresh pesto. However it is not always a choice, especially in the winter months when fresh basil is sad and expensive. It’s during times like these that I am grateful for DeLallo. We used their traditional basil pesto here, but I imagine the sun-dried tomato or spicy red pepper varieties would just as good in this unique Italian dish.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups filtered water
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
- 1/4 cup DeLallo® Traditional Basil Pesto
- olive oil, for brushing
- 2 tablespoons grated parmesan
- 1 cup marinara sauce, warmed
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper; spray lightly with cooking spray. Whisk together water, flour, and salt until smooth. Set aside for 15 minutes to rest.
- To prepare filling, combine ricotta cheese and pesto until evenly incorporated.
- Heat a small 6-inch skillet over medium heat. Brush with a light layer of olive oil. When pan is hot, ladle about 1/4 cup of batter into skillet, swirling until the batter evenly coats the bottom of the pan (like you were making a crepe). Cook for 1-2 minutes or until the top is evenly opaque and edges begin to curl, then flip and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes or until golden brown in spots. Transfer to prepared baking sheet, and top with 1 tablespoon of pesto filling, spreading into an even layer all the way to the edges. Repeat with remaining batter, layering with pesto filling to create two ‘cakes’ with about 6 layers each. Sprinkle each with 1 tablespoon of grated parmesan, and bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until heated through.
- Spoon warm marinara sauce onto plates or serving dishes and place cake on top. Slice into wedges and serve.
Disclosure: This post was created as part of an ongoing partnership with DeLallo Foods. As always, all opinions written are purely our own. We’re incredibly grateful for opportunities like these that allow us to continue sharing delicious recipes with you, so thank you for supporting us and the brands we love.