Friday, March 16, 2012

Summer Rolls

As soon as temperatures rise above 70 degrees, I eat summer rolls like it's my job.


After over indulging in rich, comfort food all winter long, I feel the need for a little cleansing of sorts. That usually involves eating my weight in asparagus, drinking lots of fresh juice and preparing some variation of summer rolls at least three times a week.

The great thing about summer rolls is they are cheap, healthy and you can fill them with whatever you have kickin' around in your fridge and it's an easy and tasty way to incorporate more raw vegetables into your diet.

This time around I filled them with some shredded carrot, red bell pepper, pea shoots, smoked tofu, cilantro and some ginger onion paste. 

But, really.. you could stuff 'em with lots of goodies.

Some of my favorites are:

cabbage (red or white)
lettuce (butter lettuce, romaine or leaf lettuce)
red bell pepper
fresh herbs (cilantro, basil, mint, chives, scallion)

A peanut sauce is fantastic with these, but you could also spread the inside with a thin layer of hummus or other bean dip or a nut/seed pate.

Get creative!

Once you get the hang of it, making summer rolls is easy peasy.  The most time consuming part is prepping all the ingredients.  The actual rolling takes about 20 seconds, kind of like making a burrito.  Also, don't be discouraged if your first few look a little wonky, they will still taste delicious!

Summer Rolls  (makes 8 large rolls)

8 rice paper wraps
1 1/2 oz. vermacelli noodles (aka rice stick noodles), soaked and drained
1 c. shredded carrot
1/2 large red bell pepper, julliened
1 c. cilantro leaves
2 large handfulls of pea shoots
6 oz. baked tofu, cut into matchsticks

ginger onion paste (adapted from this recipe at 101 cookbooks)

2 scallions, sliced
2 shallots, diced
3" piece ginger, grated
1/2 t. fine grain sea salt]
5 T. sunflower oil

Place scallion and ginger in a food  processor with the salt and pulse to make a rough paste. Heat the oil in a small saucepan. When the oil is warm (not hot) add the onion/ginger mixture and heat for 30 seconds. Remove from the heat and transfer to a small container. (the paste can be made a day or two in advance, stored in an airtight container in the fridge)

Bring a small pot of water to a boil.  Add the rice stick noodles, remove from heat and allow them to soak for 2-3 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water. Drain again and set aside.
Fill a large bowl (big enough to fit your spring roll wrappers) with warm water.
Place one of the wrappers in the warm water for 10 seconds. Remove and place on a cutting board, carefully stretching it out to make a round shape.  Working quickly, place 1- 1/2 t. of the ginger/onion paste (drain off as much oil as possible) in the middle of the wrapper. Pile on a small handful of pea shoots, followed by a small amount (1-2 T.) of rice noodles, carrots, 2-3 bell pepper strips and 3-4 pieces of tofu, and 5-6 cilantro leaves.
Fold the bottom over the filling, fold in the sides and continue to roll.  When you are done it should look like a mini burrito. 
Repeat with the remaining wrappers.
When ready to serve, cut in half and serve as is or with your favorite dipping sauce.  Scroll down this page to find the sauce I used here.

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