Calzones continue to defeat me. I’ve got the filling down, but there always tends to be too much bread. When I saw this recipe for oven-baked egg rolls (bless you, Pinterest!) it called to me. “You could use that same fantastic filling in a thin, crunchy crust, instead of in wads of dough!” it whispered.
That temptation, combined with my serious aversion to deep-frying, was impossible to resist.
The original recipe from Nutritious Eats had a Southwest filling, which I’ll make eventually. But I was looking for a new vehicle, so to speak, for my ricotta-based calzone filling. By “ricotta” I mean homemade ricotta. If you want to use regular store-bought ricotta, that’s fine, but Id consider whisking in a tablespoon or two of cream cheese or goat cheese to match the velvety texture of the ricotta you make (so easily!) yourself. Add chicken for protein, spinach for color and nutrients, scallions for flavor and the aforementioned nutrients, and a handful of good melting cheese for texture and flavor, and you’re good to go.
Leave the chicken out (and double up on the ricotta and veggies) for a vegetarian egg roll.
When brushed lightly with oil and baked in a blazingly hot oven, egg roll wrappers become shatteringly crisp, almost like phyllo but without the many layers of butter.
These egg rolls would be delicious served with a fresh salsa or pesto, but they’re so packed with flavor that they are mighty tasty all on their own. We gobbled them up (hot! hot!) before I could even think of a sauce — and made them again a few days later.
6 scallions, thinly sliced
1 fresno or jalapeño chile, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbs. olive oil, divided
10 oz. coarsely chopped fresh spinach
salt and pepper
1 1/2 cups ricotta (preferably fresh–I used one batch of this)
1 1/2 cups shredded pepper-jack or cheddar cheese
2 cups chopped cooked chicken
egg roll wrappers
Heat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment.
Sauté the scallions, chile, and garlic in 1 tbs. of the oil until tender, 3-4 minutes. Rinse the spinach and shake off excess water. Add the spinach to the skillet and stir to combine. Cook for just a few minutes until wilted. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Set aside to cool slightly. In a medium bowl, stir together the ricotta, pepper jack and chicken. Stir in the vegetables until well-distributed. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Fill a small bowl with water. In another small bowl, pour the remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Set a pastry brush alongside.
Lay one egg roll wrapper on the cutting board. Spoon about 1/3 cup filling down the center of the wrapper, leaving about 1/2 inch at the top and bottom of the wrapper. Fold those short edges up over the filling. Dip your finger in the water, and run it around the remaining edges. Fold one long edge over the filling, then fold the other edge over to seal. Brush the sealed side very lightly with oil and lay the egg roll seam-side down on the parchment. Brush the top lightly with oil.
Continue with remaining filling and wrappers; this should make 8-10 egg rolls. Bake for about 8 minutes until golden; carefully flip each egg roll and bake for another 7-8 minutes until golden. Serve hot.