So…the bullet journal thing…it’s not going as well as I’d hoped. I forgot to set up the next week before the next week came. Naturally. I did meal plan, though. This worked wonderfully the first week. This week….well, not so much. Partly, this was due to having company. We did a couple of impromptu seafood nights: crab legs one night, then lobster rolls the next at the request of our visitors. Okay…agreed. That was worth changing my plan for.
While I didn’t plan lunches the first week, I did decide to add that for future week-at-a-glance pages. Getting back into a routine was freeing in many ways. I didn’t lounge the morning away with my coffee and my computer. I got to the things that needed to be done. That cleared my head to think in advance. One of the things I’d been wanting to try actually got tried: salad rolls. Or fresh spring rolls, Vietnamese rolls–they go by many names. Whatever moniker you choose to use, the taste buds say the same thing, “Thank you, thank you, thank you. Where have you been all my life?”
I don’t know about you, but lunch is my least favourite meal. I try not to eat too much bread. (I’m finding as I get older, my body doesn’t appreciate it as much as my taste buds.) I like to have soup on hand. Salad is always an option. But I’m often looking to mix things up a little. Enter spring rolls.
This is not a recipe per se. “More like guidelines,” to quote Captain Barbossa. Almost anything goes in these rolls. Be creative. I think traditionally Vietnamese rolls have rice noodles, pork and shrimp and vegetables. I was sticking with lots of vegetables and baby shrimp. You could easily make these vegetarian by adding tofu or straight up veggies.
I started with lots of veggies, many straight from my garden. Ah, my garden. Another thing that did not go quite as planned. Some plants flourished, others struggled for every meagre fruit they bore. But I digress. My sugar snap peas were prolific. Yay! They are a favourite. A few cukes managed to make an appearance, lots of spring mix lettuce, chives, basil and cilantro. Mmmm….love me some fresh herbs, especially cilantro with it’s citrusy scent. My carrots are doing well, just not quite ready for harvest. I only got a single bell pepper and a single hot pepper from four plants of each. Ouch.
All the veggies, except the lettuce and herbs, got julienned. Instead of cutting carrots into matchstick-sized pieces, I used this handy, dandy peeler that does all the hard work for me. How awesome is that?
You really want to have everything completely ready to go, because it’s imperative to work quickly once you begin assembly. I added salad shrimp to my ingredients. They are pre-cooked, and just need a rinse under cold water to thaw.
Time to get rollin’. Pardon the pun. First get a pan of warm water ready to dip your rice paper wrappers. Have a few damp paper towels on the ready, too.
You just want to place the wrapper in the water until it begins to soften and becomes pliable. If you soak too long, it becomes gummy and overly soft and will tear on you. Ahem. Not that I know that from experience or anything. Well, maybe.
Again, you must work quickly. Carefully lay your wrapper out, then make a pile of veggies on the lower third. Next add your shrimp, and finally the herbs on the top two-thirds so they are peeking through the wrapper. So pretty!
Just work on one roll at a time. Carefully fold the bottom part of the wrapper over the veggies, tucking it in snugly, but not pulling, because it will tear. Fold in the two ends and finish rolling up. The wrapper will stick to itself. Voila. A beautiful spring roll.
Place in a dish with damp paper towel, then put another damp paper towel over it. You want to keep them moist and you do not want your rolls to touch each other. Continue until you have as many rolls as you’d like.
If you’re not eating these immediately, cover the pan with plastic wrap and pop it into the fridge. Otherwise, prepare them to serve. I sliced my rolls in half on a diagonal and served them with a pre-made spicy peanut dipping sauce that I had on hand. If you want to make your own, it’s super easy:
Peanut Dipping Sauce
- 1/2 cup of peanut butter
- 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 clove minced garlic (optional)
- pinch of ground ginger (optional)
- Sriracha or other hot sauce to taste
- 1 tablespoon hot water ( or enough to thin to desired consistency)
- chopped peanuts, red pepper flakes or chives to garnish
Not a peanut fan? Try a honey sesame sauce or a spicy soy dipper like these.
Yum, yum and yum! These are so flavourful and light and make you feel like your actually taking good care of your body. Fresh spring rolls will definitely become a lunchtime staple!