SUMMERTIME SPRING ROLLS with COCONUT PEANUT SAUCE
The thermometer inside my house has been reaching 90 degrees continuously for the last 2 weeks. I melt into my furniture and sadly, the desire to cook dissipates as the temperature rises. The dream of air conditioning has now surpassed my desire for adequate kitchen countertops and a garbage disposal (big kitchen dreams of mine, by the way). With every season comes a change in ones' routine and cycle in order to adjust. With a life that revolves heavily around food and cooking, new kitchen habits are being incorporated to try to beat the heat. Having a hearty salad ready in the refrigerator makes for a quick, heat free lunch or snack. Then there is my traditional stand-by of chips and homemade salsa. Asian foods such as DIY Veg Sushi and fresh spring rolls are filling, yet light. Both of these foods also pack well for a picnic or day by the lake.
Fresh spring rolls, are the perfect food to eat as the mercury climbs towards 100 degrees. So fresh and versatile, almost any vegetable when sliced right can be featured in these rice paper wrapped miracles. The art lies in creating a distinct contrast of crunch and texture while incorporating a variety of vegetables and salad greens. The dipping sauce is just as important as the spring roll. You really can't have one without the other. Their compatibility enhances the spring roll eating experience.
The following Spring Roll recipe features Jicama- a crisp, slightly sweet and watery root vegetable that is kind of similar to the potato. However, Jicama is best enjoyed in its' raw form and is actually related to the Rhubarb family. It is popular in Mexico and grows prolifically in the central regions there.
The first thing to do when making spring rolls is relax. Rushed hands rip and tear the delicate rice paper wrappers. Patience, along with a zen state of mind are key to successful spring roll wrapping. Begin by prepping all of the vegetables, greens, and tofu. Then clean off a large counter space where the soaked rice papers will be placed. So get your cutting board, veggies, and large bowl of cold water ready! Let's make amazing summertime fresh spring rolls.
prepped salad greens and vegetables
Delicate rice papers only need to soak for 2-3 minutes in cold water. Only place
4 papers in water at a time. Papers are ready when they are slightly pliable and feel "al dente". They will soak up more water after being placed on countertop. Oversoaked papers will result in spring rolls that fall apart and tear easily.
Gently pulling bottom paper edge over filling and then tucking in around filling with fingers.
Place soaked rice papers gently onto a clean countertop, carefully spreading them out. Place 6-10 at a time in production line fashion. This is an effective way to make many spring rolls in an efficient manner. Place small amount of each ingredient in center of each wrapper. Pull bottom edge of wrapper around filling, while condensing filling within wrapper to make a tighter package. Use fingers to do this while rolling wrapping edge over.
Fold in the wrapper sides to further wrap the spring roll filling.
Roll tightly, yet gently the rest of the rice paper to form a cylindrical spring roll.
Summertime Spring Rolls
makes 16 rolls
8c spring or mesclun salad greens
2c arugula leaves
3 sm. avocados or 2 lg.
1/2 sm. jicama, peeled
3 carrots, peeled
1/2 red pepper
1/2 package firm tofu
3T coconut oil
2 T tamari
18-20 rice paper wrappers, have more on hand just in case some tear or break
To prepare Tofu:
Cut into 4-5 1/2 inch thick slices. Bring an iron skillet or other thick bottomed, nonstick skillet to medium heat and add coconut oil. When oil is hot place tofu rectangles in skillet. Crisp each side for about 3 minutes and then place on paper towels to drain excess oil. After all tofu is done mix with tamari in small bowl, so the tamari marinates it. Let marinate at least ten minutes and then slice each square into 2-3 strips.
To prepare vegetables and greens:
Mix together spring mix greens and arugula in small bowl and set aside. Open all avocados and remove pits. Slice flesh lengthwise, about 8-10 slices per half. Do a julienne style (or 'shoestring') cut with jicama, carrots, and red pepper.
To prepare spring rolls:
Fill a large bowl of cold water for soaking rice papers ready. Arrange spring roll making area, placing salad greens, julienned vegetables, and tofu in easy to reach zone. Begin by soaking 4 papers at a time and then placing onto countertop. Once countertop is full of papers, equally distribute a handful of salad green mix, 3 carrot strips, 3 jicama strips, 2 red pepper strips, 2-3 avocado slices, and about 1 1/2 to 2 strips of marinated tofu. Arrange carrots and jicama close to the center, as they can easily poke out and puncture the rice paper during rolling process. Follow wrapping instructions as guided above through pictures.
Coconut Peanut Sauce
12oz canned coconut milk
3T agave nectar
1T red pepper flakes
2 cloves garlic
1/4 c peanut butter
1/4 c dried roasted peanuts
sm. hunk of fresh ginger, peeled
Place all ingredients in a blender and blend on high for 2-3 minutes, until all ingredients are assimilated together. Put sauce into small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer while stirring occasionally for 5 minutes. Let cool before serving with spring rolls.