Tofu Summer Rolls with Peanut Dipping Sauce

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.

Tofu Summer Rolls with Peanut Dipping Sauce

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 ­čśë

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

Tofu Summer Rolls with Peanut Dipping Sauce
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
45 mins
 
Servings: 12 rolls
Author: Erica Julson
Ingredients
  • 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
Instructions
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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!
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Roast Beef Sandwiches with Lemon Horseradish Mayonnaise

Closeup Shot of Roast Beef Sandwich with Horseradish Mayo

Mmmmm I love me a good sandwich.

Any kind will do. I literally can’t think of one sandwich I don’t like!

We eat a lot of sandwiches for lunch around here, and sometimes even for dinner if we’re having a busy day ­čśë

The best part about sandwiches is how creative you can get.

There are no limits. Pair a meat or vegetarian protein with whatever vegetables and cheese you have in the fridge, and voila, a delicious meal is waiting for you, sandwiched between two slices of bread.

Roast Beef Sandwiches with Horseradish Mayo

Speaking of bread…. people always ask what the “best” type of bread is.

I avoid┬álabeling foods as “good” or “bad” because┬áreally, food doesn’t come with a morality judgment! I believe that food is meant to be enjoyed, first and foremost, for the most satisfying and satiating eating experience.

That being said, I do base my diet around whole foods.

What do I define as a “whole food”? Foods that haven’t been processed into oblivion, and are somewhat close to their natural forms.

So, for example, my absolute favorite bread is sprouted grain bread, especially the brand Ezekiel. Rather than taking whole grains, stripping them of their fibrous bran and nutritious germ, and making bread flour out of the starchy endosperm (like normal white bread), Ezekiel bread soaks whole grains until they sprout, then forms them into a loaf & bakes it.

The result is a dense, flavorful, fiber-rich, absolutely delicious loaf. It’s the type of bread that adds flavor to a sandwich, rather than just acting as the holder, and will stay strong and un-mushy if you pack your sandwich for later in the day. Awesome.

Plus, it has 3g of fiber and 4g of protein per slice, and only natural ingredients:

Organic Sprouted Wheat, Filtered Water, Organic Malted Barley, Organic Sprouted Rye, Organic Sprouted Barley, Organic Sprouted Oats, Organic Sprouted Millet, Organic Sprouted Corn, Organic Sprouted Brown Rice, Fresh Yeast, Organic Wheat Gluten, Sea Salt.

Compare that to the ingredients in Oroweat’s 100% Whole Grain Bread:

WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR, WATER, SUGAR, WHEAT GLUTEN, RAISIN JUICE CONCENTRATE, WHEAT BRAN, YEAST, MOLASSES, SOYBEAN OIL, SALT, PRESERVATIVES (CALCIUM PROPIONATE, SORBIC ACID), MONOGLYCERIDES, DATEM, CALCIUM SULFATE, GRAIN VINEGAR, SOY LECITHIN, SOY, WHEY (MILK).

eh….. say what??

Why choose the sugar & preservative-laden variety when there’s a way better choice sitting on the shelf right next to it? ­čÖé

Plus, as a dietitian who works with food sensitivities, that Oroweat bread has TONS of extra stuff that many people have an inflammatory immune reaction to, like soy, whey, and lecithin. No bueno.

My 2nd favorite type of bread is good ‘ol sourdough.

The fermentation by yeast and bacteria (or addition of lactic acid) helps reduce the phytic acid content of the wheat and makes the magnesium more bioavailable (win!)

Plus, I love its tang and hearty structure. There’s nothing worse than mushy bread!

I always have a loaf of sprouted grain bread and a loaf of sourdough in my freezer.

For this sandwich, I opted for sourdough, because I LOVE the way it pairs with rich roast beef.

This Dietz and Watson variety of roast beef is my favorite. Just beef + salt + pepper. No preservatives or nitrates, just real food.

Pile it high on a sandwich with a creamy horseradish mayo, and you’ll feel like you’re at a gourmet sandwich shop!

Roast Beef Sandwiches with Horseradish Mayo - Overhead Shot

Roast Beef Sandwiches with Lemon Horseradish Mayo
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
5 mins
Total Time
10 mins
 
Servings: 2 sandwiches
Author: Erica Julson
Ingredients
  • 4 slices of sourdough sandwich bread
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
  • Zest of 1/2 lemon
  • Sprinkle of kosher salt and pepper
  • 1/2 lb high quality roast beef
  • 1/4 English cucumber, sliced
  • 2 rounds┬áof red onion slices
  • 4 slices of Muenster cheese
  • 2 handfuls of herbed lettuce blend
Instructions
  1. Toast the 4 slices of sourdough bread and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, horseradish, lemon zest, and a sprinkle each of salt and pepper. Spread generously on each piece of bread.
  3. Choose 2 pieces of bread to be the base of each sandwich. Layer on the roast beef, divided evenly between the two sandwiches. Top with slices of cucumber and red onion, layer two slices of Muenster on each sandwich, and pile with herbed lettuce mix.
  4. Close each sandwich with a second piece of bread, cut in half if desired, and serve.

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Spicy Pork Meatball Banh Mi

Spicy Pork Meatball Banh Mi

Confession: Aaron and I have a sandwich obsession.

No joke, we have this fantasy about quitting our jobs and opening a sandwich shop ­čśŤ Crazy combinations of spreads, sauces, veggies, fancy meats and cheeses, and creative healthy sides. Yum yum.

I haven’t blogged many sandwiches so far… but that changes now.

Spicy Pork Meatball Banh Mi

Banh mi deserves the honor of first sandwich on the blog.

While my recipe is totally horribly inauthentic, it takes the spirit of Vietnamese banh mi and runs with it.

A traditional banh mi features a delicious sandwich baguette made with a combination of rice and wheat flour, giving it a softer texture. It’s then loaded up with mayo, liver pate, cilantro, marinated carrot and daikon, cucumber, vietnamese pork, ham, and jalape├▒os or bird chiles.

This version takes a lot of shortcuts.

It uses regular bakery rolls, a spiced-up mayo, and features just one kind of meat- a flavor packed pork meatball.

But for real, it’s SO GOOD!

The spicy mayo and jalapeños make each bite tantalizingly spicy, and the meatballs are PACKED with flavor, thanks to the mix-ins (fresh basil, mint, ginger, garlic, green onion, fish sauce, and chili sauce, to name a few!). To top it off, the fresh cucumber, cilantro, and pickled carrot and daikon give the sandwich a fresh pop and balance out the heavier flavors of the meatballs and mayo.

It checks all the boxes for the perfect sandwich.

There are a lot of steps involved, so I’d recommend making this on the weekend or batch cooking the meatballs, chopping the veggies, and pre-soaking the pickled veg for an easy weeknight assembly. Enjoy!

Spicy Pork Meatball Banh Mi

 

Spicy Pork Meatball Banh Mi
Prep Time
1 hr
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
2 hrs
 
Servings: 4
Author: Erica Julson
Ingredients
For the Sandwiches
  • 2 cups grated carrot
  • 2 cups peeled grated daikon radish
  • 1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 large deli sandwich rolls
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 1 cucumber, halved and thinly sliced lengthwise into strips
  • 1 jalape├▒o, thinly sliced
For the Spicy Mayo
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 green onions, dark and light green parts finely chopped
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon Sriracha
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
For the Meatballs
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh mint
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 green onions, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sambal oelek or chili garlic sauce
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon granulated black pepper
  • Sesame oil, for drizzling
  • Olive oil, for drizzling
Instructions
  1. Place the grated carrot and grated daikon in a medium bowl. Add the 1/4 rice vinegar, 1/4 cup sugar, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Use your hands to toss and mix well, then set aside at room temperature for 1 hour, tossing occasionally.
  2. Meanwhile, stir all the spicy mayonnaise ingredients together in a bowl. Cover and place in the fridge until the rest of the meal is ready.
  3. Next, make the meatballs. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Drizzle a splash of refined olive oil on a large rimmed baking sheet, and use your hand or a paper towel to evenly coat the whole surface.
  4. In a large bowl, mix together the ground pork, basil, mint, garlic, green onions, ginger, fish sauce, sambal oelek, sugar, cornstarch, salt, and pepper. Use your hands to form the pork into 16 round meatballs. Place them evenly spaced on the baking sheet and brush them with sesame oil.
  5. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake the meatballs for about 20 minutes, or until cooked through and starting to turn golden. Remove from the oven and set aside.
  6. Drain the daikon and carrot mixture, pressing out excess liquid.
  7. To assemble the banh mi sandwiches, cut the sandwich rolls open lengthwise, creating a cavity for the filling. Spread both sides generously with the spicy mayonnaise mixture. Lay down a layer of sliced cucumber on the bottom half of the roll, and top with a small handful of fresh cilantro leaves. Add the meatballs (you can cut them in half to help them fit better), top with a generous handful of the carrot daikon mixture, and finish with jalape├▒o slices. Enjoy right away!
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