For a couple months now, I’ve been having this idea for a food in my head. Italian spring rolls. In my head, they are crispy egg roll wraps, filled with a ricotta cheese mixture, fresh tomatoes and basil, and broccoli. So tonight, I decided to make an attempt.
First, I made my cheese. It turned out to be more like cottage cheese but it worked anyway. Fresh cheese is so wonderful! Oh, and today I figured out that one of my stockpots can handle 2 gallons of milk which means I can do bigger batches… and that’s also great because Costco sells their milk in 2 gallon boxes… but I digress.
Then, I made the wraps. I have a pasta rolling machine so I figured I could just do them myself pretty easily.
I took 3 eggs, 1 cup of semolina flour, and a half cup of regular all-purpose flour and mixed them up in my kitchenaid. I ended up adding a bit more flour.
Then I turned the dough out onto a cutting board…
… and kneaded it a bit until it was smooth.
I flattened the dough ball out and cut it into smaller pieces that would be easy for the pasta machine to handle. I ran them all though the machine… sorry, no pics for that one since I was by myself 🙂
But here’s a picture of my pasta rolling machine!
So now I have several long sheets of pasta.
Since I won’t be using them yet, I decided to keep them from drying out by sandwiching them in sheets of plastic wrap (yes, it’s purple… hehe). Lesson # 1 – oil the plastic next time… the dough stuck to it pretty well.
Next on the menu – sausage. I didn’t have any Italian sausage, so I used some beer brats that I had in the freezer. I defrosted them and slipped them out of their casings.
Frying the bratwurst in a pan, trying to break it up well. I love sausage but it’s so hard to break up in little pieces like we like it. As I’m breaking it up, I notice that it was actually a jalapeno cheddar bratwurst that was mislabeled… oh well 🙂
In the meantime, I’ve chopped one head of broccoli.
And some wilted expensive grocery store “fresh” basil (oh… how I can’t WAIT for my own garden!)
Once the sausage was browned, I added the broccoli and covered it so it could cook a bit, also throwing in some garlic, dried oregano, salt & pepper. While that was cooking, I mixed the tomatoes and basil in with the ricotta cheese that I’d already made (see previous post).
Then I added the browned sausage and broccoli and mixed it all up. Next time I’d add more salt and pepper… and more fresh basil! I love fresh basil… it has such a great flavor that doesn’t come through after it’s dried.
I have a wrapper out flat, with some filling in the center. I moisten the top and bottom edges…
… and then fold in the sides.
Moisten the tops of the folded in edges…
Here’s where I made a BIG mistake. I placed the finished rolls on an ungreased plate. Looked nice… but when I went to cook them, they all stuck! They got unsealed, it was a complete disaster… which made the rolls pretty greasy on the inside.
I ended up spraying the plastic wrap I’d been using with some nonstick spray and laid the rolls on it after I pried them off the plate with a knife.
Here they are cooking in the oil, I put about a half inch or so of cooking oil in a pan and fried the rolls on medium-high heat.
And here are the finished rolls.
The verdict? Not bad. They all got eaten 🙂 Even Ballerina Girl had a couple bites of hers.
Mistake #1 – don’t make regular pasta for egg roll wraps. It was completely different and turned into more of a “bready” wrap. Next time, either buy pre-made wraps at the store or make real ones. I thought they were just pasta sheets but I was wrong 🙂
Mistake #2 – not the right kind of cheeses. I’d add mozzarella and parmesan for sure.
Mistake #3 – not enough fresh basil.
Mistake #4 – Ricotta wasn’t as smooth as I’d like… figure out what I’m doing wrong there. It was certainly not bad for my first attempt, though 🙂
And I had about 3 times as much filling as I needed. The rest of it is hanging out in our fridge waiting for me to go buy some real egg roll wraps to try out.
So there we go – dinner for tonight. The filling was really good, though. Just needed a bit more salt, but great fresh flavors. I keep thinking how great it will be when I can make something like this with sausage from our own pigs, cheese from local cows, and fresh tomatoes, broccoli and basil from our garden. Yum!
And tomorrow… I’m canning potatoes (hopefully)!