I always forget how much I enjoy these easy to make spring rolls. The last time we made them was for a party at our house, everyone loved them. I came across a partial package of spring roll wrappers while cleansing my cupboard of all the bad things I should no longer eat. Although the spring roll wrappers are essentially rice flour, they are thin and healthy when filled with plenty of veggies.
Although I planned to manipulate a recipe we’ve used before, I couldn’t find which cookbook it was in. Hmmm, next on my list should be a cleansing of my bookshelves. I mainly wanted the dipping sauce recipe but decided to improvise. My improvisation turned out just as good, if not better.
1/3 cup reduced fat peanut butter
1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon chili oil
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro
1 clove minced garlic
I used an immersion blender to puree all of these ingredients. You can also use a blender or food processor. The sauce is slightly thin and is loaded with a spicy, peanuty flavor. I could drink it with a straw!
For the peanut butter, I used the Smart Balance brand which has a better blend of poly-unsaturated and mono0unsaturated fats along with a boost of omega-3. Surprisingly, it tastes really good :-)
Last time we made the spring rolls we filled them with cooked vermicelli, beef, mint, and bean sprouts. Tonight, I decided to use beef, cilantro, lettuce, and roasted vegetables. There are so many combinations you can create — I love meals like this.
I started by roasting 1/2 lb. asparagus, 1/2 red onion, and a couple carrots. I drizzled with a teaspoon or two of olive oil and roasted for 15-20 minutes in a 400 degree oven, until tender. Allow the roasted vegetables to cool before using.
For the meat, I used a lean 3/4 lb. flank steak which I marinated with a tablespoon of minced garlic, tablespoon of minced ginger, a couple tablespoons of the peanut sauce (see above). I let it set while the vegetables roasted, then turned the oven on to broil. Depending on the thickness of your flank steak, it may take 3-5 minutes per side to achieve medium. Allow the meat to cool for 10 minutes before slicing across the grain. And if you don’t want to use meat, just substitute plain or roasted tofu.
You’ll also need some fresh cilantro and lettuce to add to the rolls, just wash and pat dry. I used a mix of baby greens and they worked quite well.
So, once you have your veggies, meat, lettuce, and cilantro it’s time to begin assembly. The spring roll wrappers are a Vietnamese dried version, which you can find in most Asian markets. Our Vietnamese friends have always advised us to ‘buy the brand with the rose on the package’.
If you haven’t worked with these wrappers before, you’re in for a treat. You dip them one at a time into warm water for about 10 seconds. They begin to soften and by the time you’re ready to roll it up, the wrappers are the perfect consistency (fully reconstituted). The package cost only .99 cents and probably contains 50 or so wrappers — a bargain meal!
Wet a wrapper and place on your work surface. I begin by adding about 4 or 5 leaves of cilantro, two pieces of asparagus, a piece of carrot, a piece of onion, a strip of meat and a few leaves of lettuce. Place the mix on one half of the wrapper, leaving an inch of space all the way around. Begin rolling and fold the edges inward as you roll. The wrapper will automatically seal itself since the wrapper becomes a bit tacky as it dries. Repeat process about 20 or so times until you’re out of filling.
If you don’t plan to eat the rolls immediately, cover and store in the refrigerator. The spring rolls will dry out pretty quickly if left sitting out for too long.
Joe was happy when he came home and found this meal waiting for him. I served the spring rolls with a bit of fresh mango on the side. The spring rolls are satisfying, a nice mix of textures and flavors. It’s a great way to add a bit of meat without going overboard, you get just a little in each bite.