Here is my first summertime recipe! I call these “summer” rolls as opposed to “spring” rolls, because I make these on evenings when I want nothing to do with turning on the stove! I made them for the first time this season the other night, 80-plus degrees with a faint breeze. Too hot to cook!
I taught myself how to make these a few years ago when a rather upscale supermarket was selling packages of four tiny rolls for nearly $5! I loved eating them, but not spending the money, and decided I could make my own much more cheaply!
The chopping of the veggies is what takes up most of the time, so I find having a nice cool glass of wine or sparkling water and something fun to listen to on the stereo bides the time away. Be sure to have everything chopped and ready to go; the rice paper is pretty unforgiving if you leave it either in water or outside of it for any length of time. Once you get the hang of the rice paper, the process goes fairly quickly.
You can do any number of combinations of veggies and I also like to use tofu for a nice creamy/crunchy roll. You could use zucchini, summer squash, spinach, lettuce, the list is endless for any veggie you can eat uncooked. I like to have everything somewhat the same length so they lay nicely in the roll; everything is sliced, as opposed to diced.
This is what was in this week’s rolls:
• Avocado, sliced
• Carrots, cut in matchstick pieces
• Orange pepper strips
• Cilantro leaves (mint is also a really good addition–or by itself!)
• Tofu, cut into strips
• Cucumber, seeded and cut into thin strips
• Cabbage, sliced
To soak the rice paper: This is my method that I discovered through trial and error. Take a large mixing bowl and fill it with hot tap water. I place one rice paper in the bowl, and move it around until it is soft, yet still pliable and not mushy. This takes about 5 seconds or so. (When I take the rice paper out of the water, I replace it with another, so it is ready to go when I come back.) Place the rice paper on a cutting board, load up the veggies. Bring in the sides of the paper, then roll in jelly roll fashion, and place on a serving platter. Once you start doing a few of these, you’ll become accustomed to how much filling to use and you’ll become a well-oiled roll making machine!
For sauces, I have an easy standby, but this time I made an extra one. I’ve had an old jar of peanut butter in the cupboard that I was saving to make a peanut sauce to accompany the summer rolls.
About a 1/2 cup of peanut butter
A couple dashes of rice wine vinegar
A couple dashes of soy sauce or tamari
Chili garlic sauce (sambal oelek sauce) to taste, if desired
Place the peanut butter in a small bowl and add hot water, enough to make a paste. Start off with a little bit, mix and repeat until you achieve the desired consistency for the sauce. Add the vinegar, soy sauce, and then add enough chili garlic sauce to give it a kick, if you’re using. I’m thinking this also would go well on noodles, with a little bit of chicken or tofu, and scallions.
Summer Roll Sauce
Rice wine vinegar
Chili garlic sauce (sambal oelek sauce), to taste
Place about 1/3 of a cup of hoisin sauce in a bowl, add the vinegar and chili garlic sauce to taste.
A couple of tips:
• Leftover rolls are the best for lunch the next day! Just be sure to lay them side by side in a container as opposed to stacking otherwise they will stick to one another; trust me, I learned this the hard way!
• If you find you have too many veggies, I throw everything into a container that I can use for salads, or your next night’s dinner is ready to go! I sometimes make rolls two nights in a row, and the second night everything is prepped for you!