Monday, June 15, 2009

Spring Rolls

Week 5 of My CSA Share

Strawberries, flat leaf parsley (also called Italian parsley), carrots, 2 types of zucchini, 2 heads of lettuce - the red speckled is a type of romaine and is named Forellenschluss which means speckled like a trout, tatsoi, rainbow chard, and sugar snap peas...

Making spring rolls can appear to be a daunting task, but with just a little practice can be a quick and healthy meal for one or the family. They also make beautiful and inexpensive appetizers for parties. The rice wrappers and rice vermicelli noodles can be found in most grocery stores or for a more interesting experience pick up these items at an asian market!! At the end I'll include a quick peanut sauce recipe to accompany the spring rolls or you can purchase a prepared peanut sauce when you buy the wrappers and noodles.

Ingredients to gather: to make about ten whole spring rolls which will be cut in half to serve.
1 package rice paper sheets
1 package rice vermicelli noodles (sometimes called cellophane noodles)
2-3 small Carrots
1 small beet (optional - it adds amazing color)
1 head asian green such as Tatsoi, Bak Choi, or Vitamin Green
12 Mint leaves
1 bunch Cilantro

Bak Choi, Mint, and Cilantro

Rice vermicelli noodles, rice paper wrappers, beet, Carrot.

In a sauce pan or stock pot bring about 4 cups water to boil, add noodles. These noodles cook very quickly. In about 2-3 minutes check for doneness by pulling one and tasting it after it cools. When noodles are cooked remove from heat and rinse.

Rinse noodles using cold water to stop them from cooking any further. Move them around with your hands to ensure that they get well rinsed. Drain thoroughly and transfer to a large bowl. Add a little oil to prevent the noodles from sticking together. Again mixing with your hands or tongs to ensure the oil is dispersed throughout.

For the beet cut off the top and bottom.

Peel Carrots and beets and shred them with a hand held grater or food processor and transfer to separate bowls.

Shredded beet and Carrots.

Chop Mint and Cilantro mix together and transfer to a bowl.

Chop asian greens into ribbons and transfer to a bowl. Pictured here is Bak Choi.

Now gather all the bowls of ingredients plus a pan for warm water and set up an assembly line.

Add warm water (as hot as you can comfortably handle) to the pan (this will have to be refilled with warm water once or twice). Place one sheet of rice paper in the water until it is thoroughly softened.

Remove rice paper and set on your work surface.

Add a handful of noodles. You will have to experiment with the right quantity. Too much will make them hard to roll. Too little will make them flimsy, and they will fall apart easily.

Add a little of each ingredient.

Pick up the end of the wrapper closest to you with thumb and index finger. Pull it up slightly at the same time take the ring and pinky fingers and guide the ingredients toward you and pull the wrapper taut. This too will take some practice as to feel how taut to pull without ripping the wrapper. Fortunately many come in the package and cost about $2... so a little learning curve does not break the bank.

Fold the wrapper over the filling that you have just pulled toward you and while keeping the roll taut, roll it over just a little more. You can release now because the rice paper will stick to itself a bit. At this point you could add some cooked shrimp for a variation.

Fold over right side.

Then the left. Pull it taut again and complete the roll.

Completed roll. Let it rest for a moment and cut in half either straight across or on the bias (at a diagonal).

I am terribly sorry for this photo. It does not do the roll justice. My batteries ran out and there was no time for replacing - so this will have to do. If you have some pea shoots stick them into the open ends for a lovely finish. Serve with peanut sauce and lightly blanched snap peas for a yummy healthy meal.

For a quick peanut sauce blend 1/4 cup peanut butter (I like the organic/natural others have hydrogenated oil in them) couple tablespoons soy sauce, juice from half a lemon, a tablespoon of honey and stir slowly whisk in warm water until the desired consistency is achieved. Salt and pepper to taste. Add Sriracha for some heat if you can take it!!!