WE HAVE just celebrated Shrove Tuesday – more commonly known in the UK as Pancake Day.

While Italians do not necessarily celebrate Pancake Day as we know and love it, they do celebrate the start of Lent, the six-week period leading up to Easter – a very important date in the Catholic calendar.

Lent starts on Ash Wednesday, the seventh Wednesday before Easter and the day after Shrove Tuesday.

Lent is the 40-day religious period, which always takes place in the run-up to Easter. It is a time of solemn observance, and preparation for the celebration of the death and resurrection of Jesus.

Across the world, even those who are not religious often abstain from something during the period of Lent. For the non-religious, Lent can be a time to better oneself for personal reasons, by fasting or giving something up that is bad for you, such as junk food or smoking.

Traditionally, Catholics will abstain from consuming meat, eggs and fats, as a re-enactment of Jesus’s suffering during the 40 days he spent in the desert being tempted by Satan.

While I would like to say I don’t plan on tempting you with a delicious recipe this month, I’m afraid I can’t do that, for if there is one thing Italians do well, it’s pancakes.

We do not, however, traditionally eat our pancakes flat, with lemon and sugar, or Nutella (although we are quite fond of the wonderful stuff in Italy, which was created by an Italian over 50 years ago): instead we use our pancakes in savoury recipes.

Savoury crespelle pancakes are one of my personal favourite ways to eat pancakes. They are a little bit like cannelloni in Italian cuisine, but they are more reminiscent of enchiladas in Mexican cooking.

The pancakes are made ahead of time, before being crafted into a delicious dish, with tomato, spinach, garlic and ricotta cheese – many of the classic Italian flavours that are common in so many Italian dishes.

So, if you are not sick of pancakes yet, or fancy trying something completely different with them, then give this recipe a go.

You can make the pancakes in advance, to save some time, and use them when you are ready, or if you have plenty of time, you can fry the batter right before you are ready to assemble them.

If you have plenty of time, you can even flip your pancakes as you cook them – apparently the trick is to cook the pancake on one side before tipping it towards the edge of the pan, and then all it takes is a confident flick of the wrist. It sounds so easy, doesn’t it?