Summer rolls are named perfectly, because they really are the ultimate summer food.
If you’re not familiar with them, they are a delicious Vietnamese hand roll, filled with rice noodles, protein (usually tofu or shrimp), a bunch of fresh colorful veggies, and a mix of mint, basil, and cilantro. They’re served with a rich peanut sauce that fills each bite with crazy delicious flavors, and makes a healthy light meal.
I’ll be the first to admit, it’s sort of hard to get the hang of rolling summer rolls.
The rice paper wrappers can be finicky & prone to ripping (until you get used to handling them), and it’s super easy to put too much filling and over-stuff your roll until it looks like a crazy burrito-like thing.
But typically by the 4th roll, you’ll have a method down, and the rolls will be edible, if not beautiful 😉
The cool thing about summer rolls is that the rice paper wrappers are translucent, so you can see the beautiful colors of whatever vegetables you put inside.
I really like the look of fresh herb leaves on the bottom of the wrap, and vibrant purple cabbage or bell peppers on the top. If you want to get REALLY fancy, you can even add thin slices of striped chiogga beets, hot pink radish, or other vibrant veggies (search Pinterest for psychedelic summer rolls if you don’t know what I’m talking about- they’re all the rage!)
I really enjoy making these on a hot summer day, since you don’t have to fire up the stove or turn on the oven. They’re refreshing & delicious, and go great with some pot stickers or shu mai or easy miso soup. Enjoy!
Tofu Summer Rolls with Peanut Dipping Sauce
Servings: 12 rolls
- 2 oz maifun rice sticks
- 12 rice paper wrappers, plus a few extra to account for accidental ripping
- 12 oz sprouted extra firm tofu, cut crosswise into 8 pieces, then each piece sliced lengthwise into thirds, creating 24 slices
- 1 bunch mint
- 1 bunch fresh basil
- 1 bunch cilantro
- 1/4 English cucumber, julienned
- 1 bell pepper or a mix of red, orange, and yellow, julienned
- 2 cups baby spinach, thinly sliced
- 1/4 purple cabbage, cored and thinly sliced
- 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter, no added sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 3 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
- 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce, or tamari for gluten-free
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
To start, cook the rice noodles according to package directions. Typically, this requires placing the rice noodles in a heat proof bowl, covering with boiling water, and letting soak for about 10 minutes, until tender. When the noodles are done, drain well & set aside.
Next, make the peanut sauce. In a small bowl, whisk together the peanut butter, water, rice vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, and ground ginger. Set aside until you're done making the summer rolls.
Place all the filling ingredients in little bowls or piles around your work surface. Fill a large flat bowl or skillet with a few inches of very warm water and place next to your work surface. Lay a damp clean kitchen towel on your work surface and get ready to make the rolls.
Submerge a rice paper wrapper in the warm water until it is soft and pliable, about 15 seconds. Remove from the water, and lay flat on the damp kitchen towel. Lay down 3 or 4 mint leaves horizontally across the bottom third of the rice paper wrapper. On top of the mint leaves, add a layer of rice noodles and two strips of tofu. Finish off the pile with 3 basil leaves, a few tender sprigs of cilantro, a few strips of bell pepper, a few pieces of cucumber, a sprinkle of spinach, and a sprinkle of purple cabbage.
Roll up the bottom of the rice paper wrapper to cover the filling. Next, fold in the left and right edges of the wrapper to close the sides of the roll. Finally, gather the filling up tightly and roll the wrap from the bottom up to the top until closed and secured. This will take a little practice. The first few you make will probably be a little over-filled or unevenly shaped, but you'll get the hang of it. Remember, it will still taste great, no matter how it looks! When the roll is done, place it on a plate and cover with a damp towel to keep the wrappers moist. Continue until you're done rolling all twelve summer rolls.
When ready to eat, serve the summer rolls with small bowls of dipping sauce. Dip the end of the roll into the sauce before each bite, and enjoy!
This week we went on a greens-eating SPREE!
I picked up 3 bunches of kale, 2 heads of lettuce, and 2 bunches of swiss chard and used them all in a week 😀
We had salads, potato cakes, sautes, wraps, polenta with greens, the list goes on. And it was freaking delicious.
One of my favorite (and easy) creations was this recipe for Potato Kale Cakes.
If you’re a mashed potato guy or gal, this recipe is for you. It’s basically mashed potatoes on steroids (pumped up w. kale, garlic, panko, egg, thyme, and green onion), patted into cakes and pan fried into crispy deliciousness.
Think creamy hashbrowns with a sh*t ton of greens mixed in. Topped with a dollop of spicy chipotle sauce…. whoo-wee, you’ve got yourself a delicious meal. It’s an easy way to sneak greens into a meal and enjoy every single bite.
If you’re a real rebel, you can serve this with salad for a double-dose of greens 😉 Happy eatings!
Potato Kale Cakes with Chipotle Cream Sauce
- 2 1/2 lbs unpeeled red potatoes, cut into quarters
- 6 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1/2 stick unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for pan frying
- 1 bunch dinosaur kale, leaves torn into bite-sized pieces, stems discarded
- 4 green onions, green parts chopped, white parts discarded
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 cup panko
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup greek yogurt
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons minced chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, or to taste
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
Place the potato quarters and garlic cloves in a moderately sized pot and fill with water to cover the potatoes. Place on the stove and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a light boil & cook for about 20 minutes, or until tender and easily pierced with a fork (exact time will vary based on the size of your potato cubes. Check after 15 minutes to be safe!)
When the potatoes (and garlic) are tender, drain well and return back to the pot. Add the milk, butter, salt, and pepper, and use a potato masher to mash well. Set aside to cool slightly.
Meanwhile, add 3 tablespoons of olive oil to a large nonstick skillet and heat over medium heat. Add the kale and saute, stirring often until it begins to wilt, about 3 minutes. Add a splash of water, reduce the heat to low, and cover, allowing the kale to steam for a minute or two. When the kale is tender, stir in the chopped green onions, cook for just 30 seconds, then remove from the heat and transfer to the pot with the mashed potatoes. Stir well to combine and set aside.
As the mashed potato mixture cools, make the chipotle sauce. In a small bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, greek yogurt, garlic, chipotle peppers, and lemon juice. Place in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
Once the mashed potato mixture is room temperature, stir in the dried thyme, panko, and eggs. Mix together until evenly combined. Use your hands to scoop up a generous 1/4 cup of the mixture, roll into a ball, then use your palms to flatten into a roughly 1/2 inch thick patty. Set aside on a large plate or baking sheet until ready to pan fry. Continue until all of the mixture has been formed into patties.
Wipe out the large nonstick skillet used to cook the kale, then add a few generous tablespoons of oil to the pan. Warm over medium-high heat until shimmering, then add enough of the potato kale cakes to fill the pan without overcrowding. Let cook without moving for 3 or 4 minutes, or until they develop a golden brown crispy crust. Carefully flip with a spatula and cook on the other side for another 3-4 minutes, then remove to a paper-towel lined plate.
Add 2 more tablespoons oil to the pan and repeat until all the potato cakes are cooked. Place a few potato cakes on each plate, top with a generous dollop of the chipotle cream sauce, and enjoy!
If I could only eat one food for the rest of my life, it would be pizza, hands down.
And I don’t discriminate. I love it all- thick crust, thin crust, even deep dish. [But there will always be a special place in my heart for this place.]
I’ll admit, I usually don’t make it at home, but oh man, this newest recipe is GOOD!
I picked up some pre-made pizza dough from Trader Joe’s (it’s such a good deal, only ~$1.25/ball!), and decided to get creative.
Homemade pizza + wine + salad + a movie = a great Friday night!
So basically, this entire pizza was made with ingredients from Trader Joe’s 🙂
After grabbing the ball of dough, I also picked up some Quattro Formaggio shredded cheese blend (a blend of parmesan, asiago, fontina, and provolone cheeses), some beautiful high-lycopene tomatoes, fresh rosemary, and garlic oil.
The goal was to make a “pizza blanca” (aka a pizza without red sauce).
Instead of making a creamy white sauce, I decided to brush the entire pizza dough with garlic oil to basically give it garlic bread crust, then topped it with sharp cheeses that could hold their own, fresh juicy sweet tomatoes, and some minced rosemary for a pop of delicious flavor.
The secret to crispy golden pizza at home is HIGH heat.
Like, as high as your oven will go. That allows the crust to puff up and cook quickly & lets the cheese melt & get gooey and lightly browned, without overcooking the fresh tomatoes.
It only takes about 10 minutes in a hot oven to achieve pizza perfection. YUM!
Let it rest for a few minutes before slicing, then serve with a simple salad, fresh fruit, & a nice glass of wine. Easy, fresh, and delicious.
Pizza Blanca with Rosemary and Garlic Oil
- 16 oz refrigerated pizza dough (I used Trader Joe’s)
- All purpose flour, for dusting
- A drizzle of regular olive oil
- Generous drizzle of garlic oil (also from Trader Joe’s- don’t skip this!!)
- 6 oz Quattro Formaggio shredded cheese blend (from Trader Joe’s) or a blend of parmesan, asiago, fontina, and provolone cheeses
- 4 or 5 cocktail tomatoes, thinly sliced (I used Trader Joe’s high lycopene tomatoes)
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
- Sprinkle of flaky sea salt (I use Maldon)
Preheat your oven to the highest temperature it goes (mine goes up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit).
Sprinkle some flour on a large cutting board or work surface & lightly flour your hands. Place the pizza dough on the surface & use a floured rolling pin and/or your hands to stretch the dough out into a large circle or rectangle.
Drizzle some regular olive oil on a large baking sheet & spread to coat evenly. Place the dough on the oiled baking sheet & use your hands to spread the dough to the shape/size you desire. It should fill a good portion of the baking sheet.
Brush the pizza dough all over with garlic oil, then top with the shredded cheese. Evenly layer with the fresh tomato slices, then sprinkle with minced rosemary.
Place the pizza in the oven & bake for 8-12 minutes (exact times will vary from oven to oven), until the crust is crisp & golden & the cheese is melted and bubbly. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with a little flaky sea salt, and drizzle lightly with more garlic oil. Let cool for a few minutes, then cut into slices & serve.