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baked Southwestern egg rolls (aka tiny burritos)

March 8, 2011

I’d had this recipe bookmarked for a while, so when I was planning the menu for our engagement party a while back, I immediately knew I wanted to make these.

They have almost all of my favorite things – black beans, corn, spinach, black pepper – and of course I added lime and cilantro, so there are two more of my favorite things. When I told my mom about these “egg rolls,” she said “Are those egg rolls?  Or are they burritos?”  I don’t know.  They’re “I-don’t-care-’cause-they’re-delicious-os”

While Annie over at Annie’s Eats (one of our favorite blogs) suggested in replying to comments that these might not reheat well, I disagree.  They reheat beautifully and even froze well – the frozen ones I’ve been reheating periodically by using my microwave’s quick defrost setting.

The best part is that they’re pretty darn healthy.  Only 117 calories per egg roll* – and much more satisfying than one of those 100 calorie packs of crackers.   And they have vegetables – but vegetables hidden in an egg roll wrapper, so the beloved carnivore could have been fooled into eating lots of vegetables.  If he hadn’t seen me put it together first and been my sous chef.

Also, I had a lot of luck putting almost everything together well in advance – which was a huge time-saver because when we got home from our premarital conference / “engaged encounter,” I was able to just pull most of the filling out of the fridge, thaw and add the spinach (which I hadn’t wanted to add earlier because I worried it’d make everything too watery) and fill the egg roll wrappers.

To make the filling in advance, I mixed everything but the spinach and cheese together, transferred it to a large tupperware and then topped with the cheese.   I kept the cheese separate / on top so that the cheese wouldn’t get soggy.

See, like this – I needed such a large dish because I was making a double-batch, which ensured that I’d have leftovers.  I mean, ensured that there’d be enough for everyone even if someone were quite hungry.

yes, that is a Diet Dr. Pepper can in the background.  Shocking!

Then I removed it from the fridge when I was ready, added it the thawed and dried spinach, mixed it all together, and wrapped my little egg rolls.

Also, I’d like to give you two important tips about making these – because ultimately, I think they’re very easy and a great appetizer, but there are a couple of steps that can seem intimidating or confusing once you have the ingredients in front of you.

First of all, thawing frozen spinach takes longer than thawing most other frozen vegetables, because it comes in a big block of ice.  Spinach retains water when it freezes, I guess, but I can’t blame it, since I sometimes retain water even when I’m not freezing in the Connecticut weather.   Remove your spinach from the box, unwrap it, and put it in a colander.  Run it under lukewarm water for 5-10 minutes or until it’s thawed – don’t use hot water, no matter how tempted you are, because then it’ll wind up getting overcooked.   Then you want to “dry” the spinach – basically, you’ve got to kill a few trees.  You’ll need lots of paper towels to help you squeeze all the water out of the spinach, but eventually, it will be mostly dry.

Second, my egg roll wrappers were extremely tough to pull apart.  I had to keep wetting my fingers to pull them apart – and you have to be very gentle.

Baked Southwestern Egg Rolls

Adapted slightly from Annie’s Eats

  • 1 package egg roll wrappers (I used Nasoya) – about 20-24
  • 6 green onions, chopped
  • 15-oz can black beans, drained
  • 4 oz can diced green chilies
  • 2 cups frozen corn, thawed
  • 1 10-oz box of frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 2 cups Mexican cheese blend
  • 1 scant tablespoon lime juice
  • half of a small bunch of fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 rounded tsp ground cumin
  • rounded 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • rounded 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • one egg, beaten (for sealing the egg rolls – it does not go in the filling)

If prepping ahead, following instructions above for making the filling ahead.

If making all in one sitting, preheat the oven to 425.  Thaw the spinach (see note above) and dry it with paper towels.  Thaw the corn (by running under cold water or per the instructions on the bag).  Mix the spinach and corn with the beans, cheese seasonings, chopped cilantro, lime juice, and chopped green onions.

Grab an egg roll wrapper (see note above) and put it in front of you, angled so that it looks like a diamond from your perspective.   Put 1/4 cup of the filling a little below the midpoint of the diamond.   Pull the bottom corner up over the filling, then bring the side corners in toward the middle.  Roll everything up toward the top, tucking in the sides more as needed.

When only about an inch of the top corner is exposed, dab your finger in the beaten egg and rub it on the top corner.  Then, complete the rolling process.   Repeat till you’re done with all of the filling and egg roll wrappers.

I realize that these wrapping directions sound confusing, so I had the beloved carnivore take step-by-step photos

Step 1: Place filling in bottom half of egg roll wrapper.

Step 2: Roll the bottom corner up over the filling.

Step 3: Bring side corners up over the rolled up filling.

Step 4: Roll the egg roll almost all of the way up (which I didn’t do before this photo.  Bad food blogger, no pie for me), pushing the sides of the wrapper more as needed.   Dab your finger in beaten egg and rub on the top corner.  Roll it the rest of the way up and set aside.   Yes, I know my hand looks whacky and manic in this photo.  It was intentional.  I think.

Set the egg rolls on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and spray with cooking spray.   Put in the preheated 425 degree oven and bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until well-browned, flipping the egg rolls with tongs after 7 minutes of cooking.

After flipping, spray the egg rolls again – my egg roll wrappers said something about getting the whole wrapper wet, so I think this is the best way to go.  I didn’t do this step and a couple of the undersides of the egg rolls were a bit too crunchy.

Remove, and serve, to your happy guests.  Or, you know, your happy self.

*According to Livestrong’s recipe calculator.  I disclaim any responsibility for scientific accuracy.  Of anything.  But particularly calorie counts.

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