Are you like me and don't really enjoy a lot of raw veggies? Especially if piled into a salad that takes hours to eat and leaves your jaw tired?
Yeah, that's right. I'm a dietitian who doesn't really enjoy a salad. But I can tell you that there is one type of salad that I find very appetizing and easy to eat! It's these salad rolls!
There are a lot of names for these guys. They can be referred to as spring rolls (which nowadays usually refers to fried rice paper wrapped rolls), summer rolls, or salad rolls. They are commonly featured at Vietnamese restaurants.
Salad rolls are thought to have originated in China, and gotten their name from the variety of fresh spring/summer ingredients used inside them.
The building blocks of a salad roll are:
Rehydrated rice paper
Fresh vegetables like cabbage, bell peppers, lettuce, cucumber, shredded carrot (some can be pickled), sprouts,
Fresh herbs like basil, cilantro, and mint
A protein source like meat, seafood, or my favorite- tofu!
Less traditional add-ins that I enjoy are:
While assembling them can be a tiny bit of work, they make for fun picnic food or outdoor BBQ food in the spring or summer. They are a great thing to bring to a picnic or BBQ as a vegan if you know a majority of the food there will be meat or animal-based.
Lastly, most salad rolls are served with some kind of dip. For this, you can use peanut sauce, a hoisin-based sauce, or a Vietnamese sauce known as Nuoc Cham. You can also be creative! Or really basic and just use hoisin or chili sauce.
Salad rolls are highly customizable. People have adapted many recipes to contain flavors ranging from jerk/Jamaican to Tex-Mex to fruit! I tried making some fruit salad rolls the other day and, while delicious, I was not as big a fan as anticipated due to the flavor of the rice paper combined with the fruit. If you want to give fruit salad rolls a try though, here is a link to a recipe.
I chose to use my favorite "ground tofu" as the protein in these rolls. You could also used smoked tofu, tempeh, or skip the protein altogether.
Here's how you assemble them:
Wet a rice paper sheet in hot water for 10 seconds. Place on a slightly wet cutting board or kitchen counter.
Fill with protein source.
Top with vegetables and fresh herbs.
Add vermicelli noodles
Fold in left and right sides.
Pull and tuck side closest to you to opposite side. Roll until the tofu is side up and folded sides of rice paper are sticking together.
If the rice paper rips, my mother in law recommends just using a second sheet of rice paper, placing the whole broken roll inside the second sheet and re-rolling. Having the extra layer of rice paper is hardly noticable on these "repaired" ones.
There are other ways to fold and roll the salad rolls. Perhaps a different method would work better, but either way you end up with a delicious roll. For a very helpful video on how to roll these, watch this.
I recommend eating salad rolls the day you make them. You can serve them with one of the sauces I mentioned above.
In order to store them, I recommend spacing them out in a large tupperware container and covering with a wet paper towel. Use paper towel in between layers.
If sending with your kids for lunch or bringing for your own lunch or snack, you can store the individually in a tupperware or wrap them in plastic wrap.
Don't feel bad if your wraps aren't beautiful. I can't get them perfect either. The main thing is that they are tasty and nutritious and hold together well enough to dip into a delicious sauce. Raw veggies are great for gut health, and you will not regret adding in some plant-diversity using salad rolls. They are tasty and nutritious!
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