Friday, April 8, 2011

Wonton wrappers - not just for wontons!

 For less than $2, you can get a package of wonton wrappers from Super 88 or any of the Chinese grocers in Chinatown. At C-Mart, they have a selection of white and yellow wrappers, in either square or round shapes. With these wrappers, you can make a light lasagna, wonton dumplings (duh, of course), baked appetizers, or a lighter version of some Italian pasta dishes. The great thing about wonton wrappers is that they're basically cheap fresh pasta. However, the fact that they are fresh also means that they don't last forever in your fridge. I've thrown away several packages because I had forgotten that they were there and mold grew on them. So, if you think you won't use some for a while, divide them into useable portions and freeze them in Ziploc bags. Defrost them in the fridge the day before you are going to use them.

If you don't live near an Asian supermarket and can't find them in your local supermarket, there are recipes online that show you how to make your own. However, they take a bit of time to make.

Light Lasagna
Ok, so the first dish I made was not wontons. I made a light lasagna, using wonton wrappers, jarred tomato sauce, mushrooms, cheese, ramekin dishes, and a toaster oven. If you'd like to make a bigger lasagna in a baking pan, that's great too but the point of using wonton wrappers is that you can make a small lasagna for one person, you don't have to boil the noodles, and you can do this in your humble toaster oven. In the pictures below, you can see that you can eat it straight out of the ramekin dish, if you don't want to dirty up a plate. For all you fancy folks, use an oven mitt to flip the lasagna onto a plate. Either way, you have a light snack (one ramekin) or a meal (2 ramekins).
Layer ingredients, starting with the sauce (so the pasta doesn't stick to the ramekin and the noodles get cooked).

Repeat layers until you use up all the ingredients. 
Keep layering!
Bake in the toaster oven at about 325-350F for 15 minutes (until the noodles are cooked).

All done!
Flip it onto a plate, if you like.
Wonton Appetizers
I'll show you just one more idea for wonton wrappers because it's not as obvious as making a pasta dish. All you need for this is a mini-muffin pan, wonton wrappers, tomato sauce, cheese, and whatever you have in the fridge that would be a good pizza topping. A regular muffin tin will work too. This is not my original idea so I'd like to acknowledge a similar recipe that includes sausage and cheese on If you're into Indian flavors, there's a good one that was recently posted on 365 Days of Eating. It requires a lot more ingredients though. [Update - July 2012]: Here's one for buffalo chicken cups.

1. Lightly oil the muffin tin. This will ensure that the appetizers come out easily and the oil will make the wonton skins taste like they were fried (a bit).

2. Put a wonton wrapper in each muffin cup. You will need to make a couple of folds to make it fit. See the pictures below.

3. In each wonton, place 1 teaspoon of sauce, whatever toppings you like, and then top it off with shredded cheese.

4. If you want the appetizers to have more of a fried taste, lightly brush the wonton wrappers with oil. This is entirely optional because the top parts of the appetizers will get crunchy without brushing with oil.

5. Bake in a toaster oven for about 10 minutes at 325 F. Since all toaster ovens are different, watch the baking process carefully the first time. They are done when the tops are golden brown. The ones in the first picture below were a minute or two over-baked. The color in the second picture was better.

Another way to do this is to pre-bake the wonton wrappers before putting the fillings in and then bake them for a few more minutes to melt the cheese. It just depends on whether you'd like the whole wonton to be crunchy or not. If you don't pre-bake the wonton wrappers, the bottom parts of the appetizers will be soft.
Use chopped up leftovers and cheese!

Wonton appetizers in a mini muffin tin.

Wonton appetizers in a regular muffin tin.

Round wonton appetizers with duck and prosciutto pieces

 Alright, so there you have it - two ideas for wonton wrappers. They're cheap, fast to cook, and tasty too.

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