Yes, you read that right . . . “Italian Egg Rolls!” This is by far the most requested recipe I get asked to make from my family. Like all incredible recipes that are created either by accident or ingenuity, this just so happens to fall into both categories. While most of us associate egg rolls as a Chinese food staple, oh, and the ever popular Greek version called “spinach roll,” my Italian egg rolls take bland and generic rolls to the next culinary level.
I love Italian food, it’s my second favorite food next to Mexican. One night as I was about to make my Mexican lasagna (which I use egg roll wrappers for.) I had this epiphany when I began to think about what else I could use the egg roll wrappers for. The answer came to me as I glanced at a jar of tomato sauce . . . “Italian Egg Rolls!” I must admit, I had to experiment a little bit with this one, but I finally have it down to two different ways of cooking them; I’m not sure if one way of cooking them is healthier than the other, but they taste so damn good, who really cares!
The first way is baking them and the second way is frying them. Preparation is a little bit different for both, but nothing drastically difficult. Oh, and by the way, a word of advice that has nothing to do with egg rolls . . . M&M’s DO NOT do very well when you try and deep fry them. I just thought I’d throw that out there (epic chocolatized fail!) O K, so back to the rolls . . . If I were you, I wouldn’t try making these if you’re in a rush to go somewhere or just want a quick dinner because they do take a moderate amount of time to make. I am medically retired so I have the time to dedicate to making them whenever I feel like it, but they are great for a Sunday dinner with the whole family gathered together. If you grew up in the 1960’s and 70’s you should be able to “roll” these babies up in no time! (chuckle, chuckle!)
1 small or 1 large container ricotta cheese (depending on how many rolls you want to make.), 1 egg, 1 Pkg egg roll wrappers (I get mine in the produce section) 1/2 cup chopped yellow onion, 1/2 cup red or green pepper chopped,
1 small Pkg of already cooked chicken or 1 pound ground beef or a few Italian sausages, all cooked, all drained well and all chopped. You don’t have to use packaged chicken, you can use leftover roaster or what ever chicken you want. If you use ground beef or sausage, it is very important to drain the fat. you want it on the drier side. You can use whichever protein you want, it’s your gig! (bacon and sausage is mind blowing!)
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (It’s called stinky cheese in my family), 1 cup Cheddar cheese, 1/2 small block Fontina cheese grated (for cheese sauce) 2tsp chopped garlic, 2 tsp coarse salt (I use sea salt) 1/2 tsp black pepper, 1/2 tsp Adobe seasoning (optional) Tomato sauce or marinara sauce for dipping (both optional) Olive oil (to brush edges)
1 large baking dish like a lasagna pan (should be on the deeper side) or frying pan, depending on which way you’re going to make them.
Combine everything but the wrappers, Fontina and tomato/marinara sauce (optional) in a large bowl and mix until well blended.
Take your egg roll wrappers out. This is where the wrapping varies. Egg roll wrappers are very thin. If you are baking them, you only need 1 wrapper (not a big deal if some ingredients spill out from the ends), but if you are frying them, use 2 wrappers, less of the filling and make sure the ends are closed and sealed tightly. Place a few at a time out on wax paper.
Take your cooking brush and and brush olive oil (or egg wash) on all 4 sides of wrapper. Using a spoon, scoop some of the mixture onto the longer edge of wrapper. Start rolling them making sure (especially if you’re frying them) to keep them tight and outside edges tucked in and sealed. I usually alternate roll, tuck, roll, tuck. If baking, place them in dish as you finish each one. If frying, put them on a plate until they’re all done and ready to have a hot oil bath.
If frying them, place them in hot oil until nice and crunchy, golden, brown. Serve with marinara sauce for dipping.
If baking them, set oven to 375 degrees. Lightly brush tops with olive oil. Place in oven for 25-30 minutes. While they are cooking, it’s time to make the Fontina cheese sauce. On low to medium-low heat, melt 4 TBSP butter in a sauce pan. Add 4 TBSP flour and mix with whisk until it turns golden brown. Add 1 1/2 cups milk (to start) continuously stirring until it starts to thicken slightly. Add Fontina cheese and stir until melted. This is where you can add some extra milk (if you want to), but do it in small amounts. Your cheese sauce is done.
After 20 minutes of cooking, remove pan from oven and . . . (this is where you have 3 options) first option; Don’t add anything, just take them out after 25-30 minutes and enjoy. Second option; add some tomato sauce and shredded cheese, put back in oven until cheese is melted. Third option; Pour Fontina cheese sauce over rolls, place back in oven and bake for an additional 10 minutes. Remove from oven, let cool down for a couple of minutes and serve.
And while we’re on the subject of rolls and rolling, how about a couple of awesome tunes that we can all roll to? I think you’re going to love this . . . .