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!
- 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!