As we move into spring and summer in the Northern Hemisphere we can lighten up and enjoy the bountiful fruits and vegetables of the season. What better way to make use of them than in a spring roll? These make attractive and tasty starters or having a few more will satisfy for a light supper. They are also quite portable if you have a covered container for the sauce (since for most, the most enjoyable part of the meal!)
Visit a Asian market in your area to find the rice wrappers – they are usually in the Vietnamese section of the store. I sometimes buy the vermicelli noodles there and vary between rice and mung bean. (The mung bean threads don’t have to be boiled – I just put what I need in a bowl and pour boiling water over them and let steep for about 5 minutes and then drain. Another option for the noodles – try Annie Chung’s Brown Rice Vermicelli noodles – those do need to be boiled, but they are quite tasty. I prefer the mung bean, though, as they have less of a glycemic impact.
I make mine vegan/vegetarian style but if you would like to add chicken or shrimp, I’d recommend leaving out the vermicelli as a) your really don’t need the extra bulk this way and b) not the best food combining. You can also make them super light by leaving out the vermicelli all together and just using a colorful variety of vegetables.
If spring rolls become part of your repertoire, something you might like to have on hand is a bowl of your shredded veggies. I run cabbage, carrots and beets through the slicing disc of my Kitchen Aid food processor and keep in a covered container in the fridge for up to 4 days. This way I can make spontaneous salads and use for stuffing the spring rolls. I also love Kohlrabi as a filling.
How to make the ideal spring roll:
I am including a video link I found on YouTube but this one starts with animal protein. When making a vegan spring roll ALWAYS start with a layer of greens (lettuce, spinach leaves etc.) as that keeps the other ingredients from puncturing the wrapper.
1. Prepare your vegetables ahead of time. Some of my favorites are: Shredded carrots, cucumber spears, sunflower sprouts, baby asparagus spears, scallions, red pepper.
2. Boil water for softening the wrappers and vermicelli. Put the vermicelli in a small bowl and pour the water over, mixing well with a fork to separate the strands.
3. Have a large shallow bowl available for the wrappers and a large plate for making the rolls.
4. Pour hot water in the shallow bowl. Using a tongs, dip the wrapper in the bowl and immerse on all sides until soft. They are very flexible so if they get tangled up you can usually get them untangled without tearing. If the wrapper tears, start with a fresh one. Takes a bit to get the hang of it but the learning curve is short :- )
5 First line with some leafy greens, then some vermicelli and pile on veggies and sprouts but avoid making them too thick. I like ot place a thin asparagus stalk or scallion at the center.
6. Start by folding in the two sides and then roll from the bottom up. I prefer them snug as otherwise they are too wobbly. If you start by layering with greens you don’t have to worry about the veggies piercing the wrapper.
7. Make sure they are well sealed. Cut in half and serve with a great dipping sauce (see below.)
Don’t forget the sauce – it’s the best part!
I can get my husband to eat these by providing an awesome sauce. My two favorites are the garlicky-ginger dipping sauce for the Sweet & Spicy Cashew Rolls (these are spring rolls that use a collard leaf instead of a rice wrapper for FULL raw) and my ultra-delectable Almond Miso Dressing, that I use often over steamed vegetables.