As I mentioned in a previous post, I volunteered to bring a side dish to a work cookout. The cookout always features the usual Americana cookout fare: burgers and dogs but since the employees bring in side dishes it does get some variety.
So I was wracking my brain trying to sneak in something healthy and a little bit different, but not so different that it would throw everyone off. I also needed to choose something that didn’t need to be cooked. Summer Rolls! Perfect.
A majority of summer rolls feature shrimp, but sometimes other proteins are subbed in like tofu, chicken, pork, etc. I wanted to stick to only vegetables because I wasn’t sure of any food allergies/preferences (you know how it is, one person won’t eat shrimp, another won’t eat beef, etc.) and I figured the majority of vegetables would be safe…and cheap (back to me being on a budget). Plus I wanted it to be on the lighter side to contrast with all of the other heavier side dishes. Then I covered myself a bit more since I was worried that people wouldn’t eat them since it was something a lot of your traditional Midwesterners have never tried before so I made deviled eggs (but that’s another post).
I’m always trying to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables so I ended up picking vegetables that were colorful and contrasting. Feel free to add, subtract, or change any of the vegetables listed.
So here’s my take in all it’s glory:
Vegetable Summer Rolls
Servings: Makes anywhere from 26 – 32 rolls which are then cut in half to make more bite sized.
For the Rolls:
- 2 packages of spring rolls wrappers (these are the dry kind that are soaked in water)
- 1 large cucumber, julienned
- 2 large yellow peppers, julienned
- 6 – 8 small radishes, julienned
- 1 ¼ cup shredded carrot
- 6 scallions, diced finely
- ¾ cup minced cilantro (or mint, or Thai basil, or a mix – I’m not particularly fond of mint and didn’t have any Thai basil on hand so cilantro it was)
- 1 large head lettuce – boston bibb, butter, etc.
- ¾ package mung bean thread noodles
Noodle & Vegetable Marinade/Sauce:
- ½ cup seasoned rice vinegar
- ¼ cup fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons of hot water
- 3 – 4 tablespoons of sugar (taste and adjust)
- 1 tablespoon sambal ooelek
- 2 tablespoons of lime juice
- 2 teaspoons of sesame oil
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
Hoisin Peanut Sauce (for dipping):
- ¾ cup hoisin sauce
- ¾ cup peanut butter (I like using crunchy to give it some texture)
- 1 ½ cups of water
- 1 – 2 tablespoons of sugar (adjust to taste)
- Bring a pot of water to a boil and cut all veggies. I bought the carrot pre-shredded and used my mandolin for the rest. You could also use a food processor or cut by hand. Place all cut vegetables in a large bowl.
- Mince cilantro, throw in bowl with the veggies.
- Remove lettuce leafs, wash and pat dry. Rip each leaf in half and set aside on a separate plate.
- Cook noodles in boiling water for about 6 minutes until done. Drain well. Rinse with cold water (to stop the cooking process). Then add to the bowl of vegetables.
- Make Noodle/Negetable marinade: Combine all ingredients in a blender/food processor until well mixed and the sugar has dissolved. Toss with noodles and vegetables. Allow to sit for at least 30 minutes to allow the sauce to penetrate the noodles and vegetables (I made the deviled eggs in this time).
- Make Hoisin Peanut Sauce: Blend all ingredients until well combined and set aside (I just put it in a container in the fridge since I was planning to travel with it).
- Dip spring roll wrapper in warm water and lay out carefully so that it doesn’t tear. Put a lettuce leaf down in the middle of the wrapper. Place some of the veggie/noodle mix (I think I was using about ¼ cup) on lettuce. Fold over sides and rolls up carefully. Repeat until all of the wrappers or filling is gone, whichever comes first. If you’re really concerned about doing this step, just search the internet, there are a lot of helpful videos on how to roll these).
- Cut each rolls in half (you want them bite size) and put in container. To keep the wrap from getting mushy in the fridge, lay down a paper towel first then place rolls down, then cover with another paper towel.
- Note: I did end up having around ½ – ¾ cup of filling leftover, but I just threw some lettuce in it and ate it for dinner (yay for cold noodle dishes when it’s hot outside). I wish I would have bought another package of wrappers though since some did tear and it’s better to be safe than sorry (and frustrated).
Honestly, I thought these ended up turning out really well. I did end up having around 8 pieces left, but I also made a lot of them for an unsure crowd. In fact I’m munching on some now as I write this (hmm….tasty) and when my husband came home for lunch he also had a few.
I think this is one of those things where it really just depends on who you’re serving it to. I noticed some people at my work didn’t even try them but that was probably just a personal preference or because they weren’t sure what they were (I had three different people ask, “What is that?”) or what was in them (one lady asked me if there was anything “fishy” in them).
But in the other camp I had people going back for more and got compliments on them with another co-worker saying that she enjoyed the rolls because they were “light and refreshing”. So you win some and lose some. And hey, it wasn’t like I was upset to be taking what was left home.