Fresh Spring Rolls
A few weeks ago, I walked into the kitchen to get something to drink. My daughter was there, plugged into her phone, watching a video, and chopping vegetables. She didn’t notice me, and I didn’t say anything, just quietly watched her. There were some bottles, jars, a bowl, and a whisk on the counter along with an assortment of colorful vegetables thinly sliced and laid out on a cutting board. Within minutes, she had gracefully rolled a little of everything into a perfect spring roll. She grabbed a plate, spooned a little of the sauce from the bowl on top of the spring roll, and sat down to eat.
I wanted some! Fortunately, there was enough leftover, and she showed me what to do. To be honest, I was a little intimidated by the rice paper. But it was actually pretty easy and super fun to make. And, wow, was it delicious! Even better than anything you would get in a restaurant too.
Don’t be dissuaded by the list of vegetables or sauce ingredients. These spring rolls are refreshing, colorful, fun, and easy to make. The ingredients are flexible. You can use more of one ingredient and leave out another, but the list below includes our favorites. And to be honest, you’ll probably want to double or even triple the sauce recipe and then eat it with everything. It’s that good.
Simple, healthy, and fresh with a creamy, delicious peanut sauce. Each roll is filled with nutritious, crisp vegetables, rice noodles, plant-based protein, and herbs.
Rice paper wrappers
Rice vermicelli noodles, cooked according to package directions, drained, and rinsed.
Lettuce, torn into large pieces
Red cabbage, thinly sliced
Carrots, thinly sliced into matchsticks
Persian or English cucumbers, thinly sliced into matchsticks
Green onions, thinly sliced into matchsticks
Red pepper, thinly sliced into matchsticks
Tofu, thinly sliced into rectangles
Avocado, thinly sliced
Herbs, basil, mint, cilantro
⅓ cup natural peanut butter
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce or tamari
2 tablespoon honey or maple syrup (more if prefer a sweeter sauce)
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons ginger, minced
To make the peanut sauce, whisk together all the sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.
Fill a shallow dish with water. Working one at a time, submerge the rice paper in water for 5 seconds (until it is pliable but before it loses its structure) and transfer to a work surface. It will continue to soften after you remove it from the water.
Place lettuce and herbs in the center of each wrapper; top with noodles, cabbage, carrots, cucumber, green onion, bell pepper, tofu, and avocado.
Bring the bottom edge of the wrapper tightly over the filling and then fold in the sides, rolling from bottom to top until the top of the sheet is reached, being careful not to tear the rice paper.
Have all the vegetables chopped or thinly sliced and the sauce made before assembling the spring rolls.
Be careful not to overfill the wrapper or it will be too hard to roll.
Romaine, Boston, red leaf, green leaf, or butter lettuce all work well in the recipe.
Toss rice noodles with a little sesame oil to prevent sticking after cooking.
Substitute the peanut butter with a different nut or seed butter if avoiding peanuts, or for a different flavor.
Most peanut sauce recipes call for creamy peanut butter, but my family prefers chunky. Go with your preference or what you have available.
The recipe is flexible and customizable with whatever fresh ingredients you might happen to have on hand, so sub in whatever sounds best to you.
To add some spice to the peanut sauce, add 1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce or crushed red pepper flakes.
To add some heat to the spring roll, add a thinly sliced jalapeno.
Tofu can be added raw (use extra firm) or you can use pre-cooked tofu or bake it first.
If the sauce is too thick, slowly whisk a little water until desired consistency is reached.