Finally, Spring is here! The best thing about fresh Spring rolls and using rice paper, is that since they don’t have a lot of flavor, you can use almost any ingredient that you want! They are typically associated with Asian ingredients, but you can really make them with whatever you like. Get creative with blanched red cabbage, blanched kale, rice noodles, green beans, mushrooms…you get the idea.
Another great thing, is that you can roll them up to a day ahead and keep them covered in the refrigerator. Just make sure to cover them with a damp towel to ensure they don’t dry out. It makes a healthy lunch, appetizer or even a filling snack. It’s also very low in calories!
I decided here to use the most colorful ingredients, since we really eat with our eyes first. All the produce is fresh, except for the asparagus which I quickly blanched. I made two sauces: avocado cream and a peanut sauce. Of course, you can stick to a traditional chili sauce; or even my carrot ginger would be refreshing here.
Rolling them definitely takes practice, but the idea is to use water on your hands to ensure it doesn’t get too tacky on your hands. Also, make sure you have enough filling to cup under your fingertips, so that it fits nicely: not falling apart, and not spewing out. The only thing that should be spewing out, is your new found love for healthy and delicious rolls.
- Rice paper (2 per serving)
- Bibb lettuce, 2 leaves per rice paper
- 1 bunch Asparagus, blanched and shocked
- 1 Watermelon radish, julienned
- 1 European Cucumber, julienned
- 1 Carrot, julienned
- 1 Red pepper, sliced into strips
- 1 Orange pepper, sliced into strips
- FOR THE AVOCADO CREAM
- 1 avocado
- ¼ lemon juice
- 1 pinch cayenne pepper
- kosher salt and pepper to taste. You should feel a little heat after you swallow.
- FOR THE PEANUT SAUCE
- ½ cup natural-style creamy peanut butter (I had chunky and just pureed it)
- ¼ cup rice wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar (or granulated sugar)
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 small garlic clove, mashed to a paste
- 1 teaspoon red chili flakes
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- Juice of quarter of a lime
- ¼ cup water or just enough to thin out to the consistency that you like
- Assemble all of your Mise En Place (All your ingredients in place) Gather a bowl large enough to hold the rice paper and add water. Place a rice paper wrapper in the water and allow to sit for around 15-20 seconds, until pliable.
- Remove the wrapper gently and place on a wet, clean kitchen towel (or several wet paper towels) and place the bibb lettuce and other ingredients in the middle.
- Fold the bottom of the rice paper to the middle of the wrapper while carefully cupping the ingredients with your fingertips. Next, fold the sides over to the middle, using water on your hands to prevent the rice paper from sticking.
- Roll all the way, upwards, as tight and neat as possible. Using a very sharp knife, or a serrated knife, cut rolls and serve immediately with the dips.
- FOR THE DIPS:
- Simply mix all ingredients together for both dips. If you desire a very smooth consistency for the avocado dip, use a food processor or blender.