I’m not sure how anyone else feels about vegetable spring rolls, but they have always intimidated me. I love ordering them when we are out at restaurants, but the thought of recreating them in my own kitchen always left me kind of…sweaty palmed. It’s not that I’m not confident in the kitchen, but when I step outside my culinary box, I get nervous about messing something up and wasting perfectly good ingredients. I love most veggies, but I’m not a fan of cilantro (in any variety), which is what you’ll find in most spring rolls dining out. I was determined to make colorful veggie spring rolls with NO CILANTRO and a spicy peanut dipping sauce. Not too tall of an order, right?
When I saw rice paper wrappers on sale at our local international grocer, it was the sign I needed to get on with it! The worst that could happen was that the rolls would fall apart and I would have a ton of pre-cut veggies for stir fry. Fully convinced I’d be eating stir fry for dinner, I got to work.
I started by cutting up zucchini, carrots, red bell peppers, onion, purple cabbage and cucumbers. I made sure to cut them long ways so that they would fit in the rolls more easily. I also had mixed greens, fresh mint and fresh basil on hand. I got out my rice paper wrappers and they are hard and disc-like in their packaging, but soften up easily by soaking in warm water. I had poured a mixing bowl size of room temperature water and let each wrapper soak individually for about a minute. I soaked the wrappers in the water one-by-one, because I was also really afraid of them sticking together!
When the wrapper is soft, it’s time to get started wrapping!
I put a handful of vegetables in each one, plus some herbs and greens and then wrapped them as tightly as I could, making sure to tuck the ends in. I was really afraid of the wrappers ripping (and they did a little bit you can see in each photo), but for the most part they are really pliable and easy to work with!
I will warn anyone making these, that once they got wet, the rice paper wrappers had a kind of weird smell that was a little bit like plastic, but it dissipated after awhile and had absolutely no impact on taste. Weird, but worth mentioning if you attempt these at home!
When I got finished, I had six rainbow vegetable rolls and I stuck them in the refrigerator to enjoy for happy hour later that night with Dane. I knew that eating them on their own might fall kind of flat, so I also mixed up a spicy peanut sauce to dip them in.
For that, you will need:
3 tbsp peanut butter (I prefer crunchy)
1 tbsp chili garlic sauce
splash of sesame oil
splash rice vinegar
1 tbsp coconut aminos
3-4 tbsp vegetable broth (you could use chicken broth too)
1. Whisk all ingredients together. If it need to be more runny or sauce-like, add in a bit more broth.
I was so excited to pull these out of the refrigerator to find that they had firmed up a little bit and I could easily pull them off my cutting board and serve on plates. The crisp vegetables paired against the spicy peanut sauce was the perfect combination and I was mentally patting myself on the back. Dane was a little bit skeptical at first, but he was impressed that I attempted them at home and ended up enjoying the flavors!
Have you ever made spring rolls at home? What would you put in yours? The options are endless so it’s a great appetizer to get creative!