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Friday, April 26, 2013

Summer is coming! Veggie Spring Rolls

It happens every spring. The weather starts to get warmer, the days get longer, trees and flowers are budding, the same morning dove nests near our front door. I love those things about spring, but the spikes of hot weather warning that summer is just around the corner, not so much. So on a recent day when the temperature climbed into the 90's, I needed to make something that wouldn't heat up the kitchen. These spring rolls fit the bill quite nicely. These are not the square egg roll wrappers, they are round and white, about 8" in diameter and come in a round plastic package. If your grocery store doesn't carry them in the Asian aisle, try a specialty market, Asian grocer, or import store. They take a little time to roll, but totally worth the effort when you bring the platter to the table.
Veggie Spring Rolls
makes 12
12 rice paper wrappers (Bánh Tráng) also called Spring Roll Skins
1 bag fresh baby spinach
1 large yellow bell pepper
1 large roasted red bell pepper (fresh or jarred)
1 medium zucchini
1 bunch green onions
1 small cucumber
6-12 white mushrooms
1 bag pre-shredded carrots
1 large avocado, peeled, pitted and thinly sliced

Gather all of your ingredients and have bowls ready to place each veggie into as you go. Slice the yellow pepper, roasted red pepper and zucchini into julienne (very thin) strips. Trim roots and ends from green onions and slice the bunch diagonally across into thin slivers. Cut the cucumber in half lengthwise, then slice one half into very thin half-rounds (cut the other half into small dice and keep aside for the noodle salad). Slice the mushrooms thinly.
 Fill a large shallow bowl or pie plate half way with warm water. Place a rice paper wrapper in the water to soak for a minute. Remove wrapper from the water and place on a cutting mat, smoothing out any wrinkles & laying it as flat as possible. Place another wrapper in the water to soak. Lay a small handful of spinach leaves in the middle of the softened wrapper, then lay the other vegetables next to and on top of the spinach. Keep about an inch away from the sides, just lay in a long mound. It's nice to be able to see the colors of the other vegetables through the rice paper, so think about this as you lay the veggies out. Only use a couple of strips of each type, or they will tear when you roll them up. Fold the left and right sides over and towards the center. Carefully lift the end closest to you up and over the top of the veggies. It's somewhat stretchy, so don't be afraid to pull a little. Tuck the veggies in with your free fingers as you roll the wrapper over the top, meanwhile also tuck the sides in where you folded the wrapper towards the center. Once you get the wrapper over to about the middle and past the veggies, it's pretty easy to roll up the rest of the way. You want it to be neat and tightly rolled or it will come apart as you eat it. That's it! Keep rolling the same way until you have used up all the rice paper wrappers and always keep one soaking while you wrap another. Use any veggies you have left over (except the avocado) for the Peanut Noodle Salad below. Serve with Peanut Sauce on the side
Peanut Sauce
makes about 2 cups
1 cup natural peanut butter
1 cup water
1/2 cup lite coconut milk
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp Sriracha Sauce or 1 tsp cayenne
1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
Whisk all ingredients in a small saucepan until combined. Heat on low until thickened & bubbly. Add more water if needed to make a drizzling consistency. Adjust spiciness to your taste by using more or less Sriracha/cayenne. Reserve 1/2 cup sauce for the noodle salad below.

Peanut Noodle Salad
makes 8 servings
1/2 cup peanut sauce
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
1" piece of ginger, peeled and grated
1# lo mien noodles or any long, skinny pasta
reserved vegetables from wraps above
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 Tbsp sesame seeds
In a bowl, whisk together peanut sauce, vinegar, oil, soy sauce, garlic, and ginger.
Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain, rinse with cold water and drain thoroughly. Finely chop vegetables and add along with diced cucumber reserved from wraps above, and chopped cilantro. Add veggies and dressing to noodles, toss until evenly coated. Place salad into serving bowl and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
Two wraps with 1/4 cup of peanut sauce and 1/2 cup of salad comes in at about 560 calories, mostly from the sauce, but come on, you gotta have the sauce!

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