Wanton wonton love

I want to highlight a must-buy at the grocery store. It will add a little more ease, fun and health to your home cooking. Wonton wrappers. No joke. These are not scary little things that only expert Asian cooks know how to handle. In fact, they can be more than quite versatile and extremely user-friendly. They have been my life saver on several occasions.

Here’s the kicker: they are extremely low in fat and sodium and even have a nice little fiber kick, despite not being made from whole grains. They are sort of like a light pasta dough that has not been dried. It makes for some creative uses that I like to employ in my cooking all the time. Plus, the store bought package usually has 80 or 100 wrappers for only a couple dollars.

Let me fill you in on some of the most useful and easiest ways to use store-bought wonton wrappers.

Pot Stickers/Dumplings: You love these Asian treats. How do I know? Oh right, because everyone does! I bet you never considered making them at home. It could not be easier with a package of wonton wrappers. Dream up any filling you can imagine, put 1-1.5 teaspoons in the middle of a wrapper, brush the edges with a little water and pinch closed. I have personally made a vegetarian version with finely chopped broccoli, tofu, scallion, mushroom, and a little teriyaki sauce and reduced fat cream cheese. Or another great one is pulled chicken, scallion, sesame oil and ginger. Once you have pinched the desired number of little pockets together, you can pan fry them on each side with a little oil or cooking spray until they are slightly browned. For an even healthier version, put them in a single layer in your steamer for five or six minutes or on a baking sheet in a 350 degree oven for ten minutes. A terrific lunch, dinner, snack or pot luck dish!

Ravioli: Go a little more Italian and a little less Asian with the filling and you can make your own ravioli super quick with the pot sticker method. Try fresh mozzarella, chopped basil, parmesan and diced bell pepper as a filling and you won’t be disappointed. I would recommend steaming or boiling and serving with a marinara, but really the pan-fried or baked method would work well too here.

Chips: Some of you probably know that I’m always trying to find different ways to make healthy, crunchy snacks. Here is another great one. You can cut some wontons into strips, or leave them in squares, and fry them on each side in some cooking spray (or oil) for about a minute on high. They’ll crisp and brown really fast, and you can hit them with some combination of salt, pepper, paprika, hot sauce or whatever strikes your fancy to make them a little more interesting. AND, an awesome snack, soup or salad topping or dip delivery mechanism.

Noodles: I made a stir fry recently and forgot to make rice. I thought regular noodles would be a little weird with stir fry, and I did not want to wait the eternity that it takes brown rice to cook. I opened a package of wonton wrappers and dunked them in some boiling water for about a minute. They softened to a great noodle texture and were a perfect base for the stir fry. I just dressed them with a little salt and pepper and sesame oil. In a non-Asian situation, olive oil or Smart Balance would have been great too I imagine.

Soup Base: Okay so you want one crazy and creative use of wontons? How about to thicken up a soup base? I was making a tortilla soup recently and wanted more of a richness and thickness to the stock, so I threw wonton wrappers and some corn tortillas together into the food processor and chopped them into little pieces. I added them into the stock and they kind of melted into the background and added some nice tortilla depth to the tortilla soup.

See? I told you they were my life savers! They should be yours too. Soon.

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