Spring Rolls bring a flood of sweet memories for me. They remind me of this tiny, very private thai restaurant on the northside of the city (Chicago) where Marty and I would share the freshest, most amazing spring rolls, amongst other amazing dishes. We live about 10 miles outside the city now and we don’t visit as often as we used to when we lived in Lincoln Park. But I remember trekking through freezing snowstorms, ice rain/sleet, -20 below and rush-hour traffic jams on Lakeshore, just to step foot in our favorite getaway. With only a handful of tables, soft lighting and an authentic asian atmosphere, it became a peaceful, yet personal experience. The only way to find out about this gem is by word of mouth! We kept going back for those spring rolls though because we have never tasted anything like them. When biting into them, its similar to a drink of fresh water and a breath of fresh air. They have the perfect crunch and are bursting with beautiful flavor. Filled with sprouts, perfectly baked tofu and all kinds of veggie goodness, they paired perfectly with their special sweet dipping sauce.
Wishing I could recreate this yummy experience, I started experimenting with making my own versions of vegan spring rolls and sauces. During the summer, usually your body craves fresh veggies and lighter meals rather than heavy meals using the oven. Your house won’t feel like a sauna and you will be pleasantly surprised with how fast these spring rolls can come together. Don’t be scared to make these! They are much easier to make than they look. The only difficult part is trying not to rip the delicate rice paper. After one try, you will get the hang of it. The papers are super sticky too once they dry so be careful because they will stick to your plate and stick together too. Gently pick them up or else they will tear. I found these spring roll skins (rice paper) at Whole Foods.
You can use tempeh or baked tofu for this recipe, along with any veggies you have on hand. I had lettuce, cucumber, carrot, purple cabbage, bean sprouts, shelled edamame (from Trader Joe’s) and green onions. Any veggie would work here. Even pineapple or mango added in the mix would be amazing.
Soak the spring roll paper in warm water.
Delicately lay the spring roll paper on a flat surface.
Add all of the veggies to the center and gently fold up the sides.
Fold up bottom edge and tuck under tightly, then finish rolling the rest of the way.
The dipping sauce brings out all the flavors and adds that nice savory element. I love how light and airy they turn out. I’ll be making these Spring Rolls with Spicy Peanut Sauce often!
- 1 cup shelled frozen edamame
- 1 8 oz. package of tempeh (or tofu) cut into 4 strips lengthwise, then cut in half
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons tamari (or soy sauce)
- 8 spring roll skins (rice paper)
- 4 large lettuce leaves, sliced
- 2 cups purple cabbage, sliced
- 2 green onion, sliced in thirds
- 1/2 of a cucumber, sliced into strips
- 2 large carrots, sliced into strips or shredded
- 2 cups bean sprouts
- 4 tablespoons natural peanut butter
- 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon warm water
- 1 tablespoon tamari (or soy sauce)
- 2 teaspoons maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger, or freshly minced ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more if you want spicier)
- Start by cooking edamame according to directions.
- Then start sautéing the tempeh on the stove on medium-high heat, in sesame oil and tamari. Cook until golden brown color (about 4 minutes) and flip to cook other side.
- Meanwhile, chop up vegetables.
- After edamame and tempeh are cooked, we can start assembling our spring roll. I like to have everything laid out so the process moves quicker.
- Take 1 rice paper and place in a shallow pan filled with warm water. Allow rice paper to soften for about 15 seconds. Remove and lay flat on a plate - Be gentle so you don't rip the delicate paper!
- Start layering all veggies in the center of rice paper - in no specific order here but I usually start with the lettuce and go from there.
- Fold up sides of rice paper. Fold up bottom edge, tuck tightly under and finish rolling the rest of the way. It will stick together nicely. Finish rolling the rest and set aside. If you have veggies left over, make another roll.
- Start preparing the Spicy Peanut Dipping sauce. Combine all sauce ingredients in a small bowl and whisk together until smooth, this can take a few minutes.
- Dip spring rolls in peanut sauce and enjoy!
- Optional add-ins: Sesame seeds, peanuts, vermicelli noodles
- This recipe makes 8 spring rolls. Refrigerate leftovers up to 2 days.