I had a package of egg roll wrappers staring at me every time I opened the fridge for the past couple of weeks so I decided that last night was the night to stop the cycle. I buy things like this on impulse with no real notion of what I can do with them? The thought of making actual egg rolls seemed laborious but I had it in my head to put them to some use before they expired.
I had also bought enough fresh spinach to feed an army last week and I had still not exhausted my supply! I bought that much because I was in a shop I don’t get to often and it looked so good – I just had to have it. Spinach and egg roll wrappers – what to do? Lasagna popped into my head – problem solved. Since the egg roll wrappers are on the delicate side I decided against anything very robust tasting, like a Bolognese sauce. Instead, I went with shrimp and a white sauce with mushrooms, onions and garlic. It was a delight and quite easy to prepare. The wrappers held up well in the oven (which was only about 20 minutes or so) and after it had cooled for 5 minutes was very easy to cut and serve. Everyone enjoyed their dinner last night very much!
You will need: 1 1/2 lbs shrimp (31-40 count per lb), 1 large sweet onion (or two medium), 1/2 lb white mushrooms, 4 cloves garlic, 1 cup basil leaves, 3 or 4 sprigs fresh thyme, 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil, 1/2 lb fresh spinach, 2 1/2 cup milk (2% or whole), 3 tbs unsalted butter, 3 tbs flour, 1/2 tsp chile flakes (optional), slat and freshly ground black pepper.
Preheat oven 350*
Shell the shrimp and put the shells in a saucepan with the milk, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp black pepper and bring to a boil, turn down heat and simmer for 3 minutes. Turn off heat and cover with lid until needed. Wash spinach and put a pot on the stove-top on high with 1/2 cup of water. When it comes to a boil add spinach, cover and cook for 3 minutes. Drain in colander and squeeze out excess water. When cool enough to handle, chop finely and set aside. Cut shrimp lengthways into 2 halves. Season with pepper and a little salt.
Saute on high heat in batches (don’t crowd pan) in olive oil until just cooked through (3 minutes). Transfer to bowl until ready to assemble. Dice onions, chop garlic finely, tear leaves off of basil stem and slice mushrooms thinly. Put saute pan on medium and add 1 tbs oil. When pan is hot add onions, garlic and mushrooms and cook for about 10 minutes until onions are soft and mushrooms have started to brown.
Add sprigs of thyme and basil and turn heat down, cover and cook for a further 5 minutes (until vegetables have softened further and herbs have started imparting flavor). Turn off pan, keep covered and set aside. Make sauce: Melt butter on low heat and add flour. Whisk into a paste and let it cook for about 1 minute before adding the milk slowly (through a sieve to catch the shells or remove shells before you start adding to roux). Add pepper flakes, 1/4 tsp salt (I used Maldon sea salt flakes – look in my pantry section for more information) and some grinds of black pepper. Cook sauce for about 15 minutes in which time it will have thickened and the flour will have cooked in. Remove thyme sprigs from vegetables and using a spatula, add the sauce to the mushroom and onion mixture and mix well. Remove a 1/2 cup of sauce and set aside (will be used for topping on last layer). Time to assemble. Take a shallow oven-proof dish and spread about 4 tbs of sauce onto the bottom of the pan.
It will be a very thin layer. Add 1 single layer of egg roll wrappers on top of the sauce, overlapping just slightly (cut with scissors to accommodate). Spread 1/2 of the shrimp over the wrappers and dot with 1/2 of the spinach. Spread with 1/2 of the sauce.
Repeat this 1 more time and end with a layer of wrappers (you will have three thin layers altogether). Spread the remainder 1/2 cup of sauce evenly over top layer and place in oven for about 22 minutes.
At this point I stuck it under the broiler for a couple of minutes to give the top a nice finish (I actually forgot about it so don’t do what I did and leave the room for too long!). Serve as is, or with some more greens.
Note: If you want to have a lighter lasagna, just eliminate the middle layer of wrappers and put the entire filling in the middle!