Friends have been asking me a lot, lately, what my favourite new recipe is. Each time, I found it hard to answer in the moment.
While making dinner tonight, I realized that, since our first attempt at making salad rolls (aka fresh spring rolls), we’ve been eager to eat them again and again. So, yes, best recent discovery: the salad roll.
Traditionally, salad rolls are Vietnamese. I grew up having them on a fairly regular basis and would consider them to taste fresh, healthy, but honestly a bit bland until you dunk them into peanut sauce. Our household has reinvented the salad roll.
I made a post not too long ago about salad and I hope that it served as a bit of inspiration to the kinds of different things that can be added to a salad to make it a healthy, balanced meal.
Salad rolls are no different, being salad ingredients wrapped in rice paper. Interestingly enough however, I’ve seen them being made on numerous Food Network shows unsuccessfully. The judges complain of them being bland and boring. Allow me to introduce you to a killer salad roll — that isn’t necessarily all about the peanut sauce –then feel free to take these tips and experiment!!
3 Rules to a great salad roll:
2. fresh herbs
You will find a lot of salad roll recipes that are filled with rice noodles and very little of anything else. I would consider rice noodles to be optional…filler more like it. You have a 21 inch round rice paper to fill, why stuff it with boring, bland noodles. If/When we use rice noodles, we only use a little bit. Again, filler!
Texture comes from a variety of places. The fresh crunch of spinach, thinly sliced carrots, red peppers, cucumbers. The nutty crunch of chopped almonds or peanuts. The tasty bite of sauteed shiitake mushrooms or zucchini. The tender sweet bite of sliced mango or strawberries. I say keep it with the Asian theme (my boyfriend doesn’t agree and I’ll often find kalamata olives, feta, tomato, hummus tossed onto the counter when he’s setting up our spread)
Fresh herbs add SO much flavour!! Cilantro is great. Really great…but whenever I buy fresh basil, we know a salad roll night is coming up. Basil (and it doesn’t have to be Thai Basil) ROCKS in salad rolls.
Acid — it’s incredible how much brightness a squeeze of lime juice brings to a salad roll. I have incorporated acid by a simple squeeze of lime, or else, if I want to put tofu in the salad roll, I’ll marinade it in lime juice and rice wine vinegar and soya sauce. Lemon juice is good too, but I think lime is best.
It’s hard to provide a recipe for something like this, that we make different every time. But everytime I’m rummaging through our fridge and cupboards for things to use, I always look for some fresh crunchy veggies to juilienne, something green and leafy, something nutty, something to saute, a fresh herb and a lime. We make a very simple sauce of peanut butter + soy and put a few dots in the roll, rather than using it to dip.
A tip for rolling the salad roll — set up a frying pan that’s at least the same diameter of the rice paper you’re using and put some hot water in it ( not boiling, because you need to stick your fingers in it). Have a plate ready to go beside you, then rotate the rice paper into the hot water, not losing control of it. It takes no more than 15 seconds for it to be pliable enough to use. I will put spinach on the bottom and put anything hot on the spinach instead of directly on the rice paper. I also ensure to leave a bit of room on the sides so I can tuck while rolling.
The bf doesnt’ care — most of the time he doesnt’ have a mess on his plate, but he does need to use a bit more care while eating than I do because his ends aren’t as sealed.
Please have fun with this, and let me know what you try out!!
Have a good weekend everyone!