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 😉

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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Corn and Black Bean Summer Salad

Corn and Black Bean Salad - Vibrant and Refreshing

The scorching days of summer are in full swing, and the last thing anyone wants to do is turn on the oven.

Salads and bbq to the rescue! Outdoor cooking and raw fruits & vegetables (and maybe a cocktail in tow) are summer essentials. The best way to beat the heat.

I’ve really been digging fresh corn.

Like, raw. You don’t even need to cook it! If it’s freshly picked and peak-season, it has a sweet flavor with a crunchy bite that adds great texture to salads, like this one.

This side salad is awesome.

It can even double as a salsa!

It features fresh white corn, sweet red bell pepper, creamy black beans, fresh cilantro, and minced red onion, drizzled with fresh lime juice and olive oil.

It’s REALLY freaking easy.

Like literally just chop everything up and toss together in a bowl. No cooking involved. No hot kitchen needed.

It’s great as a side salad to grilled chicken or skirt steak. It’s also super easy to add to a DIY taco buffet. Simply grab a corn tortilla, fill with grilled steak, top with a generous spoon of this corn/bean mixture and some fresh avocado & go HAM.

We repurposed ours the next day in breakfast burritos, and even used it in Mexican bowls with beans, rice, and sofrito. The sky’s the limit!

Try bringing it to your next summer potluck and watch it disappear.

Corn and Black Bean Salad

Corn and Black Bean Summer Salad
Prep Time
15 mins
Total Time
15 mins
 
Servings: 8 as a side
Author: Erica Julson
Ingredients
  • 3 ears white corn, kernels cut off
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 15- oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup minced red onion
  • 1/4 cup minced cilantro
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Place everything in a large bowl and toss to combine. Enjoy!

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Roasted Eggplant with Tahini and Za’atar

Roasted Eggplant with Tahini and Zatar

Every time I glance over at my cookbook shelf and see Ottolenghi’s Plenty, I crave roasted eggplant.

 (affiliate link)

Okay, so I haven’t actually MADE his cover recipe, but it looks freaking delicious!

Ottolenghi’s version is drizzled with a creamy buttermilk sauce and sprinkled with pomegranate, za’atar, and lemon thyme. I can imagine the creamy roasted eggplant, tangy sauce, and pops of sweet-tart pomegranate.

Soooooo, when I saw these beautiful little baby eggplants at the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market, I knew it was time for some roasted eggplant in my life.

Ten Purple Baby Eggplants on a Marble Slab

Confession: I like baby eggplants more than the large ones!

They cook more quickly, are easy to eat in two quick bites, and can be scaled up or down to serve the right amount of guests.

Roasted Eggplant with Tahini and Zatar

In my version of roasted eggplant, I still went with a Middle Eastern spin, but VEGAN. Instead of a creamy buttermilk sauce, I whipped up a drizzle of tahini, lemon juice, and garlic. It still has the tangy creamy vibe of buttermilk, but without any dairy! (Perfect for those with dairy sensitivities).

A sprinkle of chili powder gives the eggplant a little smoky spice, and the za’atar (a blend of thyme, sesame, and sumac) rounds it out with a tangy herbaceous kick. Top with some fresh cilantro and paprika and sesame seeds for color, and you’ve got a kick-ass meal worthy of serving at a dinner party or on a simple weeknight at home.

Try it for you next Meatless Monday- you won’t miss the meat at all 😉

Roasted Eggplant with Tahini and Zatar

 

Roasted Eggplant with Tahini and Za’atar
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
25 mins
Total Time
40 mins
 
Servings: 4
Author: Erica Julson
Ingredients
  • 10 baby eggplants, stems cut off & eggplants halved lengthwise
  • Drizzle of olive oil or grapeseed oil
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • Kosher salt & ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons za’atar spice blend, for garnish (you can buy it or make it at home)
  • 1/2 tablespoon sesame seeds, for garnish
  • 1/4 cup minced cilantro, for garnish
  • Ground paprika, for garnish
Tahini Sauce:
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Place the eggplant halves, cut side up, on a large rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle liberally with olive or grapeseed oil and use your hands to rub the oil all over each eggplant half. Sprinkle the cut sides of the eggplants with the chili powder, and season well with kosher salt and ground black pepper.
  3. Place in the oven and roast for 15-20 minutes, until golden and cooked through. Remove from the oven and set aside.
  4. While the eggplant is roasting, place the minced garlic, tahini, lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Use a fork to whisk together to form a smooth sauce.
  5. Place 5 eggplant halves on each plate, drizzle with tahini sauce, sprinkle with za’atar, sesame seeds, cilantro, and paprika, and serve. Goes great with wild rice blend and sautéed swiss chard.

 

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