Cooks fill wonton wrappers with nearly anything -
Published Wednesday, January 16, 2013 at 1:00 am / Updated at 3:04 pm
Cooks fill wonton wrappers with nearly anything
Wonton Walnut Ravioli

3½ cups cubed peeled
butternut squash
1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
½ cup half-and-half cream
40 wonton wrappers
1 egg, lightly beaten
½ cup butter, melted
6 tablespoons marinara sauce
1/3 cup finely chopped walnuts
2 teaspoons minced fresh sage

Place squash on a greased 15-inch-by 10-inch by 1-inch baking pan. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper; toss to coat. Bake, uncovered, at 425 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until tender, stirring once. Cool slightly.
Place cream and squash in a food processor; cover and process until pureed. Spoon 1 tablespoon mixture in the center of a wonton wrapper. (Keep wrappers covered with a damp paper towel until ready to use.) Moisten edges with egg; top with another wonton wrapper. Pinch edges to seal, pressing around filling to remove air pockets. Repeat with remaining wrappers and filling.
In a Dutch oven, bring water to a boil. Reduce heat to a gentle simmer. Cook ravioli in batches for 30 to 60 seconds or until they float. Remove with a slotted spoon; keep warm.
Meanwhile, place butter and marinara sauce in a microwave-safe bowl. Cover and microwave on high for 1 to 2 minutes or until heated through, stirring once. Stir in walnuts. Serve with ravioli; sprinkle with sage. Yield: 4 servings.
— Taste of Home

Veggie Wonton Quiches

24 wonton wrappers
1 cup finely chopped fresh broccoli
¾ cup diced fresh mushrooms
½ cup diced sweet red pepper
¼ cup finely chopped onion
2 teaspoons canola oil
3 eggs
1 tablespoon water
2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon white pepper
Dash cayenne pepper
¾ cup shredded cheddar cheese

Gently press wonton wrappers into miniature muffin cups coated with cooking spray. Lightly coat wontons with cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 5 minutes. Remove wontons from cups; place upside down on baking sheets. Lightly coat with cooking spray. Bake 5 minutes longer or until light golden brown.
Meanwhile, in a nonstick skillet, cook the broccoli, mushrooms, red pepper and onion in oil over medium heat for 4-5 minutes or until crisp-tender. In a small bowl, whisk eggs and water; stir in the parsley, salt, thyme, white pepper and cayenne. Add to vegetable mixture; cook over medium heat for 4-5 minutes or until eggs are completely set. Remove from the heat; stir in cheese. Spoon about 1 tablespoonful into each wonton cup. Bake for 5 minutes or until filling is heated through. Serve warm. Yield: 2 dozen.
— Taste of Home

Strawberry Tartlets
12 wonton wrappers
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
¾ cup Mascarpone cheese
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons orange juice
3 cups fresh strawberries, sliced
Whipped cream and fresh mint, optional
Brush one side of each wonton wrapper with butter. Place brown sugar in a shallow bowl; press buttered side of wontons into sugar to coat. Press wontons sugared side up into greased muffin cups. Bake at 325 degrees for 7-9 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Remove to a wire rack to cool.
In a small bowl, combine the cheese, honey and orange juice until smooth. Spoon about 1 tablespoon into each wonton cup. Top with strawberries. Garnish with whipped cream and mint if desired. Yield: 1 dozen.
— Taste of Home

Shrimp Poppers
1 package Nasoya wonton wraps
1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened
1 scallion, chopped
1 teaspoon garlic, chopped
2 teaspoons hot pepper sauce
½ teaspoon salt
½ lb. cooked shrimp, peeled and chopped
1 egg white
4 cups corn oil for frying
In a bowl, combine cream cheese, scallion, garlic, hot pepper sauce and salt. Add the shrimp. Beat egg white and brush the edges of the wonton wraps with the egg white. Place 1 teaspoon of filling in the center of each wonton wrap. Pull corners toward the center to make a point. In a heavy saucepan, heat the corn oil to 375 degrees F. In batches, fry the wontons for 1 minute, or until golden brown. Drain on paper towel.

Enchanted Beef Bites
1 package Nasoya wonton wraps
2 cups chopped skirt steak, cut into ½-inch pieces
¾ cups soy sauce
1 cup pineapple juice
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper, or to taste
4 ounces cream cheese,
at room temperature
1 cup green onion, chopped
½ cup roasted green chile, chopped
½ cup crushed pine nuts
Oil for frying

Cut skirt steak into bite-size pieces, about ½ inch. Combine soy sauce, pineapple juice and pepper in a small saucepan, bring to a boil and add the chopped skirt steak. Simmer for about 4 minutes, or until steak is fully cooked. Remove from heat and drain.
To assemble, place wonton wrapper on a secure work surface. Spread about 1 teaspoon of cream cheese in the center. Top with a couple bite-size pieces of the prepared beef, a couple pieces of chopped green onion, about ½ teaspoon of chopped green chile, and about ¼ to ½ teaspoon of crushed pine nuts. Moisten the tips of your fingers and rub around the edge of the wonton wrapper. Bring the edges together and pinch together, sealing firmly, creating a small package. Repeat with the remaining wonton wraps.
When all the wraps are filled, bring a 4-inch depth of oil to a high heat in a 4-quart or larger saucepan. Gently drop in the beef bites and fry until crisp and golden, about 1-2 minutes. Remove from the oil, drain on paper towels and arrange on a platter.

Seasoned Wonton Crisps
6 Nasoya wonton or egg roll wraps
2 teaspoons olive oil

Suggested topping: Italian herb dressing mix, herbs de Provence, grated Parmesan cheese, paprika, sesame seeds, etc.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. If using wonton wraps, cut each square into two triangles. If using egg roll wraps, cut each wrapper lengthwise into equal strips. Place wraps onto baking sheets and spritz with olive or canola oil. Lightly sprinkle desired topping on strips. Bake 3-4 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand until cool. Store in an airtight container.

Jacklyn Salgado likes being creative in the kitchen, and she especially enjoys fusing cuisines from around the globe.

When a friend asked the Bellevue resident to make some snacks for a birthday party, she took inspiration from two of her favorite cuisines — Mexican and Asian — and whipped up a batch of crispy fried wontons stuffed with chorizo and goat cheese.

Typically used for dumplings, crab rangoon and other Asian goodies, wonton wrappers proved to be the perfect crunchy vessel for the spicy, savory filling, she said.

Salgado is among the home cooks, chefs and others who use wonton wrappers to make bite-sized nibbles, entrees and even desserts. The wrappers are simple to use and inexpensive. Plus, you can customize them in countless ways.

On food blogs, online recipe sites and Pinterest, a pinboard-style photo-sharing website, you’ll find dozens of recipes showcasing the versatility of wonton wrappers in such dishes as taco cupcakes, chicken pot pie bundles, pizza bites and jalapeño popper puffs.

Wonton wrappers, also called wonton skins or wraps, are ready-to-use squares (about 4 x 4 inches) of a thin dough made from flour, eggs, water and salt. You can find them near the tofu in the refrigerated section of most supermarkets.

Since they have a neutral flavor, they work well with both sweet and savory fillings and toppings. You can use them with meat, seafood, herbs, vegetables, fruit, cheese, jam, nut butters and chocolate.

They’re easily folded and pinched into shape, and they can be prepared a variety of ways: baked, boiled, fried and steamed, among other cooking methods. Depending on the ingredients you use to fill them, they can take on a Spanish, Greek, Asian, French, Indian or Italian flair.

“You can do so much with them,” Salgado said. “You can put whatever you want in there.”

To use them as tart shells and pie crusts or for mini quiches, line the cups of a muffin pan with wonton wrappers and bake until golden and crispy. Layer a few baked or fried wonton wrappers with a custard or cream filling to create a stacked Napoleon-style dessert. Cut wrappers into triangles or strips, toss with oil and whatever seasonings you like, then bake or fry them to use as crackers for dips and spreads.

When Salgado needs to use up leftover wrappers, she turns them into a crunchy base for ice cream. After frying the wrappers, she coats them in sugar and cinnamon, puts a scoop of ice cream on top, then drizzles the dessert with honey, caramel or chocolate sauce.

Since they’re similar to sheets of pasta, wonton wrappers are a convenient shortcut for making ravioli and lasagna, said Steve Bell, a chef instructor at Metropolitan Community College’s Institute for the Culinary Arts.

“The great thing about the wonton wrap is the versatility,” he said. “It’s a great vehicle for culinary creativity.”

For an easy yet elegant presentation for tuna tartare, Bell makes crispy serving bowls out of wonton wrappers. He tucks a wrapper inside a metal ladle, fits another ladle on top to hold the wrapper in place, then immerses it in hot oil for a minute or two.

“When it’s done frying you have a nice little cup,” he said.

For a kid-friendly treat, Bell makes peanut butter and jelly wontons for his nephew. He freezes the filling for a few minutes until slightly firm, places a spoonful of the mixture in the center of each wrapper, wets the edges with water, presses to seal, then pan-fries them in butter until golden brown.

The wrappers also work well for an easy take on apple pie, he said. For the filling, combine thinly sliced apples, butter, cinnamon, vanilla and sugar. Trim the corners of the wrapper to make a circle, add a spoonful of filling, fold it in half for a half-moon shape and crimp the edges with the tines of a fork. Once assembled, the treats can be fried or baked. If you bake them, brush the outside with egg wash or butter.

Nasoya, a food company that has produced wonton wrappers for more than a decade, has seen a steady increase in sales over the years as consumers find new ways to use them, said Brad Lahrman, brand manager for the Ayer, Mass.-based Vitasoy USA, Nasoya’s parent company.

Due in part to the growing popularity of TV shows, websites and blogs devoted to food and cooking, more people are curious about creating new things in their kitchen, Lahrman said, and they’re interested in using different food products, including wonton wrappers.

Their small size makes them ideal for appetizers, finger food and bite-sized party snacks, he said. In the days leading up to the Super Bowl, he added, his company typically sees a spike in wrapper sales.

There are a few things to keep in mind when you’re working with wonton wrappers. Store them in the refrigerator, but let them come to room temperature so they’re easier to handle. When assembling, keep wrappers from drying out by covering them with plastic wrap or a slightly damp towel. Make sure the edges are well-sealed to keep the filling inside during cooking.

“They’re pretty resilient and easy to work with,” Bell said. “Your job is to make the filling nice and flavorful and delicious.”

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