Things a Monkey Could Cook: Pizza Rolls and Salad

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Now spring has finally sprung in most of the Northern Hemisphere, which means festivals and familiarity—which means party time, and around here that frequently also means pizza rolls, enhanced by a fresh green salad straight from the farmer’s market. Close to forty years ago these things started appearing in the freezer section of my neighborhood groceteria and I correspondingly thought that it was a truly swell idea, set out to make my own, and suddenly became the darling of my humble party scene.

It actually got to the point where I began to wonder whether they were inviting me or my appetizers….

Well anyway, already addicted to pizza like every other Baby Boomer on the planet, basically all I did was mix the shredded cheese together with whatever precooked topping I would’ve otherwise put on said pizza—instead distributing this mixture onto eggroll skins, and then wrapping and frying them up in exactly the same way I’d been making my already-popular Shrimp Eggrolls.

Victory was mine!

So you can put anything you want in there, but you need to sauté your veggies a bit in some olive oil, or precook things like sausage and pepperoni, just like you would when making a Calzone, and perhaps now it’s time for your inner chef to kick in? Meanwhile, the mixture I’m detailing below is based on chicken, which I’ve come to view as a relatively healthy crowd-pleaser.

Then we generally prefer to dunk them into the simple Marinara Sauce to be found below, which always sits on the plate in a small bowl. However, when I want them to go over big as finger-food at the sort of party where dunking could be treacherous, I instead throw a large can of tomato paste right into the cheese mixture to supply the expected flavor, along with a teaspoon of dried basil, and maybe some diced and fried onions, peppers, and/or mushrooms—should salad also seem inappropriate.

And speaking of succulent spring salads, the one you see pictured here was the subject of an earlier blog, and so I now refer you to the recipe waiting at the end of this magic blue Green Salad link for elucidation.

Chicken Pizza Rolls

  • ½ pound boneless chicken, shredded
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano = 1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped
  • a pinch of salt, and a generous grinding of pepper
  • 1 pound shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 package eggroll wrappers
  • olive, canola, or vegetable oil for frying

Heat the olive oil in a small pan over medium-high heat.

Add the garlic, and when it sizzles fry the chicken until it looses color.

Stir in the oregano, salt, and pepper right before the end.

Turn this mixture into a bowl and let it cool down for about 10 minutes before you mix it with the cheese.

Time to rock and/or roll!

First, in addition to the filling mixture and the eggroll wrappers, you’ll need a small bowl of water for sealing purposes, a damp towel to keep your fingers clean, and a roomy plate to place the rolls on. Don’t stack them, or they might stick together.

Lay an eggroll wrapper on the countertop and try to imagine this square within a clock face, with the points at high noon, three, six, and nine….

Place about ¼ cup of the filling mixture along a line from eight to four.

Fold up the bottom corner to partially cover the filling.

Fold the right and left corners over the filling toward the center.

Carefully roll your pizza roll up toward the top corner, enclosing the filling as tightly as you can without tearing the wrapper.

Moisten the inside surface of this top corner with a fingertip dipped in water before you slightly pinch the surfaces together to seal them.

Once rolling is complete, heat about ½ inch of oil in a roomy frying pan over medium-high to about 375 degrees. Test it with a thermometer if you’re fortunate enough to own one; otherwise, test it by carefully lowering the corner of a pizza roll into the pan: if no sizzling commences, take it back out and wait a bit.

Fry 3 or 4 pizza rolls at a time—without crowding the pan—turning carefully once with tongs, until they’re golden brown.

Drain well on paper towels and serve immediately, if not sooner.

Marinara Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1 large can = 4 cups fresh, peeled tomatoes
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil = 1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano = 1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped

A teaspoon of crushed red pepper can be a nice addition to this if your filling features something like a veggie, chicken, or ground beef, where spiciness is not supplied by a hot sausage—so I would definitely add it this time. Ditto when I use it as a condiment on a Chicken Parmesan Sub, or to enhance something like Spinach Manicotti, or for a similar dunking experience when I go to the trouble to make the Chicken Nuggets and Cheesy Bread that currently seem to captivate the culture.

Coat the bottom of a roomy saucepan with the oil and put it over medium heat. Add the garlic and stir it around until it sizzles, but don't let it brown.

Crush the tomatoes and add them to the pot with the salt and basil. Cover and cook until the mixture begins to bubble; and then simmer your sauce uncovered over low heat—stirring more frequently as it begins to thicken.

While those wishing to download my cookbook for free might care to click here, where if you're also hungry for entertainment, you might like to sample some of my fiction as well.

Enjoy!

 

 

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