Vegetarian Spring Rolls

Vegetarian Spring Roll with Asian Peanut Sauce

Gardens and farmers markets are bursting with greens (like lettuce, Swiss chard, arugula and spinach), fresh herbs (like mint, parsley, cilantro and chives), and other salad veggies (like carrots and radishes and snow peas). Which makes right about now the perfect time to wrap up some Vegetarian Spring Rolls. These beautiful and delicious rolls pack a nutritious punch, starring tofu as their protein and in-season Spring veggies and herbs as their crunch and fresh. Think: flavorful, hand-held salad. Think: Perfect to pack in your lunchbox.

These rolls are inspired by Vietnamese or Chinese Spring Rolls, which celebrate the year’s first fresh vegetables after a long winter of preserved foods. Traditionally, Vietnamese Spring Rolls feature shrimp or pork and rice noodles. But the possibilities for what to put in your Spring Rolls are limited only by your imagination. With the wide range of vegetables and herbs at their peak at this moment, I’ve chosen to go veggie all the way. I’m also stirring up a creamy peanut sauce for dipping that can be kicked up with red pepper flakes or made mild by leaving them out. If you’re in search of vegan and/or gluten dishes, this recipe works for you, too.

Pick up the rice wrappers at your local grocery store if you’re lucky (that’s where I found mine) or an Asian specialty store if you don’t see them on your regular shop. Don’t be afraid to give these wrappers a try; they are easier to use than you might imagine. Make your dipping sauce ahead of time. Prep your herbs and veggies just before assembly. When you’re ready to roll, you’ll want to place everything on the counter so you can create quickly.  Make a dozen or more spring rolls, planning to store some in the fridge to eat later. Your taste buds — and your body — will thank you!

Makes 12 rolls

Ingredients

  • Asian Peanut Sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. butter or coconut oil
  • 1 8-ounce package of extra firm tofu (Twin Oaks Tofu is my favorite, if you can get your hands on it)
  • 12 rice wrappers, medium sized (about 8-9 inches or 22 centimeters)
  • 2 cups lettuce, Swiss chard, arugula or spinach, cleaned, de-stemmed and coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup sprouts
  • 1 cup sliced radishes, shredded carrots or snow peas, or a mix of all three
  • 1/4 cup mint leaf ribbons and/or chopped chives
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, minced
  • Chopped nuts and extra herbs for garnish

Instructions

  1. Prepare the Asian Peanut Sauce. Set aside.
  2. Heat cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Add butter or coconut oil. Slice block of tofu into rectangle-sized pieces. Once butter has melted, place sliced tofu in pan. Cook until golden brown on one side, then flip and cook until golden brown on other side. Remove from pan and cool. Slice tofu into thin strips and set aside.
  3. Prepare greens, veggies and herbs then place them on counter in assembly-line.
  4. Fill a large bowl with hot water. Dip one rice wrapper into the hot water for about 20 seconds to soften it. Set on counter. Line with 2-3 spoonfuls of greens then a pinch of sprouts, then two spoonfuls of veggies, then 2 strips of tofu, then a sprinkle of herbs. Do not overload or roll will fall apart. Spoon a little Asian Peanut Sauce on top, if desired.
  5. Carefully fold top half of wrapper down over veggies, then carefully fold bottom half of wrapper up over veggies. Take left side of wrapper and pull tightly over veggies, tucking it in slightly. Then roll to the right until cannot roll any farther. The rice wrapper will stick to itself, creating a tidy package.
  6. Set spring roll onto serving dish and repeat. Wrappers and veggies should run out about the same time. Scoop Asian Peanut Sauce into small bowl for dipping. Cut rolls in half for easier eating. Garnish with chopped peanuts and extra herbs.
  7. If storing spring rolls to be eaten later, place in a 9×13 inch dish with space between each roll. If they touch one another, they may stick and rip apart. Cover dish tightly.

Want to see a live how-to?
Below, I make Vegetarian Spring Rolls on Roanoke’s Daytime Blue Ridge.

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