Friday, September 14, 2012

Summer Rolls

It's too hot to cook.  It was 104 degrees in Silver Lake this afternoon, and it's still 101 as I write this post!  When the weather is blazing hot, I like to make simple and delicious recipes that require no cooking.  Summer rolls are just that kind of dish.

Summer rolls are essentially salad in a wrapper.  And there are so many things to love about them beyond their fresh simplicity.  You make them individually, so make a little or a lot.  They're great finger food -  no utensils needed.  You can make them for vegans, vegetarians, or omnivores.  In fact, you can get quite creative with the ingredients.  You can serve them with a variety of different dipping sauces.  And you can make them in advance, as they keep well in the fridge for hours.

Below is my basic recipe for Summer Rolls.  Do add one or more of the suggested additions that follow the basic recipe.

For each roll:

1 dried rice paper wrapper
1 lettuce leaf, torn into largish pieces
2-3 strips carrot, washed, peeled, and sliced lengthwise
2-3 strips cucumber, washed, peeled, seeded, and sliced lengthwise
3-4 slices avocado
1-2 strips red bell pepper, or 3-4 pieces yum yum pepper
1 green onion, finely chopped
1-2 sprigs cilantro, or to taste
3-4 mint leaves, or to taste

1.  For each summer roll, prepare vegetables as described above.  Set aside.

2.  Fill a 9" or 10" pie plate with warm water.  Working with one rice paper wrapper at a time, dip the wrapper in the warm water until it just begins to soften, just a few seconds.  The wrapper will continue to soften even after you remove it from the water, so take it out while it's still firm.

3.  Lay the softened wrapper on a non-sticky work surface.  Working quickly and starting with the lettuce leaves, arrange the veggies (and other ingredients, see below) in the center of the wrapper.  Fold up the bottom, roll one side of the wrapper over the veggies, then roll it over the other side of the wrapper, leaving the top open.  Alternatively, you can fold up the top, too, if you wish.  Repeat with each wrapper.

Here are a list of ingredients that I like to add to my Summer Rolls:  grilled tofu strips; grilled shrimp; thinly sliced, seasoned and grilled beef, pork or chicken; mango slices, papaya slices, slices of crunchy apple; jicama strips, julienned radishes or daikon strips.

As for dipping sauces:  Ponzu sauce, which is a citrus-y soy sauce is nice.  Peanut sauce is traditional, as is sweet-hot chili sauce.  You can add a little hoisin sauce on the inside of the summer roll, if you like.  Sometimes I sprinkle a few drops of lime juice inside.

To make a quick peanut sauce:  Mix 1/2 C chunky style peanut butter with a few tablespoons of soy sauce and rice vinegar, add a few teaspoons sesame oil and a little agave syrup to taste.  You can stir in a little finely minced garlic, if you like.

Today's bounty included:

From Jaime Farms:  Lettuce, basil, and cilantro;

From Jimenez Family Farm:  Zucchini, garlic, kale, tomatoes, corn, and tomatillos;

From K and K Ranch:  Eggplant, yellow nectarines, apples, and natural Thompson grapes;

From Shear Rock Farms:  Tromboncino squash; and

From Weiser Family Farms:  Purple potatoes, yum yum peppers, and beets.



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