Summer Produce Part 2 – Spring Rolls

Spring Rolls are another of our favorite ways to enjoy fresh, healthy veggies.  This is also a great light supper that can be made a few hours ahead.  They are one of my go-to meals that I can put together in the afternoon so that when we come home completely whooped from the 90 minute Pilates class we go to on Thursdays we can just flop on the couch and tuck in.  If your friends are foodies, Spring Rolls are also a fun appetizer you can make together while enjoying a cocktail or two…

Here is what you need and how you make them:

  • Spring Roll wrappers (find them at most supermarkets in the Asian aisle)
  • assorted veggies, sliced into strips and/or blanched if necessary
  • assorted fresh herbs
  • cooked shrimp, sliced lengthwise (optional)
  • thin rice noodles (optional)
  • dipping sauces (recipes follow)
One package of Spring Roll wrappers - think super-thin tortillas made from rice!  You also need  a shallow dish of water large enough to soften them.

Spring Roll wrappers – think super-thin tortillas made from rice. You also need a shallow dish of water large enough to soften them.

Thin rice noodles are also traditional in Spring Rolls, altho I didn't use them this time.  You need to soften them in boiling water for a few minutes prior to use.  Just follow the package directions.

Thin rice noodles are also traditional in Spring Rolls, altho I didn’t use them this time. You need to soften them in boiling water for a few minutes prior to use. Just follow the package directions.

Veggies like lettuces or spinach can be left whole.  Peppers and carrots should be sliced into thin strips.  Beans and peas will be easiest to eat if they are blanched first.

Bring a pan of water to a rolling boil and toss veggies in for a minute or two.  You don't want them cooked thru, just softened a bit - 1 to 2 minutes max.

Bring a pan of water to a rolling boil and toss veggies in. You don’t want them cooked thru, just softened a bit – 1 to 2 minutes max.

A spider is a super helpful tool for quickly removing veggies or pasta from boiling water.

A spider is a super helpful tool for quickly removing veggies or pasta from boiling water.

Immediately plunge blanched veggies into an ice bath to stop the cooking, set the color and keep them crisp.

Immediately plunge blanched veggies into an ice bath to stop the cooking, set the color and keep them crisp.

This time I chose to use baby spinach, green beans, cooked shrimp, red peppers, sugar snap peas, sliced scallion greens, fresh mint and fresh basil.

This time I chose to use baby spinach, green beans, cooked shrimp, red peppers, sugar snap peas, sliced scallion greens, fresh mint and fresh basil.

FIll a shallow dish which is large enough for the wrapper to lay flat in with water.  Completely submerge wrapper for 15-30 seconds until wrapper is mostly softened (not a limp, slimy mess).

FIll a shallow dish which is large enough for the wrapper to lay flat in with water. Completely submerge wrapper for 15-30 seconds until wrapper is mostly softened (not a limp, slimy mess).

Carefully remove the softened wrapper from the water and lay it perfectly flat on the counter.  I sprinkle the counter with water so the wraps will continue to soften and won't stick to the counter.

Carefully remove the softened wrapper from the water and lay it perfectly flat on the counter. I sprinkle the counter with water so the wraps will continue to soften and won’t stick to the counter.

Place desired fillings in the center of the wrap.  Be sure to leave the edges free.  Place any greens on the bottom, then other veggies or shrimp, and top with any herbs or scallions.

Place desired fillings in the center of the wrap. Be sure to leave the edges free. Place any greens on the bottom, then other veggies or shrimp, and top with any herbs or scallions.  The wrap is see-though, but it is there!

Fold the side up over the filling, and then fold the bottom over the sides - like you are making an envelope or rolling a burrito.

Fold the sides up over the filling, and then fold the bottom over the sides – like you are making an envelope or rolling a burrito.

Tuck the fillings into a bundle and roll up like a burrito.  You want the bundle tight enough to hold together when you eat it, but not so tight that you tear the fragile wrapper.  After you make one or two, you'll get a feel for it.

Tuck the fillings into a bundle and roll up like a burrito. You want the bundle tight enough to hold together when you eat it, but not so tight that you tear the fragile wrapper. After you make one or two, you’ll get a feel for it.

At this point place them in the fridge to chill while you make a dipping sauce or two.  Be sure to put plastic wrap between any layers.  They will keep in the fridge a few hours, if you are making them ahead.

At this point place them in the fridge to chill while you make a dipping sauce or two. Be sure to put plastic wrap between any layers. They will keep in the fridge a few hours, if you are making them ahead.

Once your wraps are chillin’ in the fridge, it’s time to make some yummy dips.  Our faves are peanut butter dip and a sweet-sour-spicy Thai dip.

Peanut Butter Dip

  • ¼ cup peanut butter (either creamy or crunchy – whatever you have)
  • ¼ cup warm water
  • 1 Tbsp. lime juice
  • 2 tsp. soy sauce
  • 2-3 tsp. sugar (to taste)
  • ½ tsp. sambal olek (a Thai pepper mix found in most supermarkets)

Whisk together all ingredients.  If dip is too thick, add a bit more water.  If it is too runny, add a bit more peanut butter.  The texture really depends on the style of peanut butter you use.  If you don’t have Sambal Olec (and you should, because it’s a great ingredient to add a little heat and color to dips, dressings, stir fries, etc.), you can add a little Sriracha, hot sauce or cayenne pepper to add some heat.  This sauce shouldn’t be HOT, but have a nice balance of salty, sweet, sour and spicy.

Thai Dipping Sauce

  • 2 Tbsp. lime juice
  • 2 Tbsp.  rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • ¼ tsp. Sriracha
  • ½ tsp. Sambal Olek
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp. finely minced scallion greens
  • 2 tsp. chopped fresh cilantro

Whisk all ingredients together.  This sauce is also a perfect dip for pot stickers and filled won tons.  I never have fresh cilantro on hand, so I love these little cubes they sell at Trader Joe’s.  They work great – one cube is sufficient in this recipe.

I believe they also sell fresh basil, garlic and ginger cubes.  I reuse the trays to save my own fresh herbs and grated ginger.  Reduce, reuse, recycle!

I believe they also sell fresh basil, garlic and ginger cubes. I reuse the trays to save my own fresh herbs and grated ginger. Reduce, reuse, recycle!

When you are ready to serve your rolls, slice them in half crosswise, on the diagonal.  Plate the rolls, pour the sauces into small bowls and enjoy!

Peanut Butter and Thai dipping sauces

Peanut Butter and Thai dipping sauces

Spring Rolls - healthy, delicious and beautiful!

Spring Rolls – healthy, delicious and beautiful!

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