Friday, July 12, 2013

Fresh Spring Rolls

It is a salad season, that is for sure. Hot days lead into hot evenings, and most nights, no one wants to cook. Which is just fine, as it lines up nicely with greens popping out of the garden, snap peas dangling on the vines and cherry tomatoes bursting with sweet summer heat.

So that is our theme: raw, fresh and chock full of garden greens. But night after night of salads can become a tad boring, so this is my other favorite way to serve up the bounty. Rolled in fresh rice paper, spring rolls are essentially a salad in a wrap, with the dressing thickened up a bit for dipping. And for some reason so much more exciting- I promise they will be the hit of any dinner party you attend.

The possibilities are endless, so let your creative juices flow. The recipe I am posting below is for a fairly straight forward roll, but know that I leave you with ultimate creative license on this one. For a more substantial roll to replace a meal, try adding rice noodles, minced nuts and seeds, even fruit (mango?). Amp up the flavor with some thai basil, minced ginger or spicy chili peppers- you get the idea. My one rule: avocado is non-negotiable. Period.

This Thai Almond Dipping Sauce is my absolute favorite, but there are plenty of other options out there. You could go for a light tangy vinaigrette by mixing together equal parts honey and brown rice vinegar, with a dash of tamari and chili flakes. Or whip up an Orange Ginger dressing with some fresh squeezed orange juice, shredded fresh ginger, toasted sesame oil and a dash of salt. You get it.

As for the wrapping- there are two tricks. The first is to dip the wrapper in water until it is completely wet, remove immediately and place on your cutting board. By the time you have arranged your vegetables and are ready to wrap, it will be soft and pliable, but with some remaining integrity. Leaving the wrapper in the water until it seems ready to use will only lead you down a slippery path of ripping, tearing and ultimately, snorts of frustration. The second trick is let yourself practice. The first few might not be pretty, but you will get the hang of it. Those are perfect for your pre-dinner snack, as I guarantee you they will still be delish.

Fresh Spring Rolls


1 tbs. red Thai curry paste
2 tbs. almond butter
2 tbs. coconut milk
1 tbs. tamari
1 tbs. honey
1 tbs. lime juice

1 cucumber, cut into matchsticks
2 medium carrots, shaved using a peeler
1 avocado, thinly sliced
1 red pepper, thinly sliced
a handful of sprigs fresh cilantro, washed
a handful of mesclun greens, or shredded napa
¼ cup almonds, crushed
optional: toasted coconut shreds, minced ginger, minced chili pepper, vermicelli noodles etc.
12 spring roll wrappers (rice), 8½inch size


To prepare the dipping sauce, blend curry paste through lime juice in a small bowl or blender.

Place remaining ingredients separated on a platter. To assemble, set up a large deep plate of room temperature water. Slip a spring roll wrapper into the water until completely wet, remove, and lay it flat on a cutting board. Arrange vegetables along the middle of the wrapper in a straight line, along with almonds and optional toppers. Once the wrapper is pliable and soft, fold over the ends and roll the wrapper up as tightly as possible. Cut each roll in half across the middle diagonally, using a wet knife blade.

Stand the rolls flat on their ends and serve with Almond Dipping Sauce.

Relax. Eat Well.