Homemade Fresh Summer Rolls with Easy Peanut Dipping Sauce are healthy, adaptable, and make a wonderful light dinner, lunch, or appetizer. Here’s exactly how I make them.
If you’re anything like me, you definitely overloaded on jelly beans, cadbury cream eggs, and cake this past weekend. With several Reese’s eggs in the mix too. And bread. So many toasted slices of this irresistible bread.
Needless to say, I went on a very long run yesterday and made veggie-packed summer rolls for dinner. Summer rolls are actually something Kevin and I make on the regular. Last summer, I found myself spending way too much money on pre-made summer rolls at my favorite take-out sushi place that decided it was time to make my own. Following the instructions on the rice paper package, it turns out making these healthy rolls is actually pretty simple. You just need a little practice, instructions, and a trusty knife to sliver a million veggies.
You’ve had these before right? If you haven’t, summer rolls (also known as Vietnamese spring rolls, salad rolls, or rice paper rolls) are basically the uncooked version or flash-fried spring rolls or fried egg rolls. They’re fresh, loaded with vegetables, sometimes shrimp, and I’ve even had them with slices of mango inside–> amazing, amazing.
The first and most important part is to have everything sliced and ready to go before you begin assembling. You can use a variety of veggies and even throw in some rice noodles and shrimp. What I always find necessary is adding a lot of crunch. Something crunchy like carrots, cucumbers, peppers, or all of the above. Also? Some tasty herbs like mint, basil, or cilantro. Here’s what I always put in my summer rolls: cucumber, carrots, red pepper, cilantro, shrimp, chopped purple cabbage, butter lettuce (or romaine… whatever I have), shrimp, and avocado.
Veggies like cucumber, carrot, and peppers should be thinly sliced/julienned. I slice the shrimp in half too, which makes them nice and thin for the delicate roll.
Everything’s wrapped up in rice paper wrappers. You can find rice paper wrappers at most major grocery stores– I usually get mine at Whole Foods. Each wrapper has about 30-35 calories, depending on brand. Add all these tasty veggies, eat a few, and you have one seriously low calorie meal.
Remember what I said above about practice? Well, the toughest part to master is working with the rice paper wrappers. Sizes range from large to small, but I usually buy the 6-inch size. Before rolling, the wrappers must be hydrated in warm water long enough to slightly soften (they’re crisp out of the package). Usually the back of the package will give instructions how to use them. Basically, you want them soft but still a little firm and manageable. After you layer the rice paper onto your rolling surface, the paper will continue to soften. Be careful, the wrappers are extremely delicate and practically unworkable when they become too soft. So, keep “slightly firm” in your mind as you briefly dip them into the warm water.
For the rolling surface, I recommend a ceramic or plastic cutting board. Sometimes I use my giant wood cutting board, but I find the rice paper wrappers stick to it a little more. Still workable, yes– but I find my plastic cutting board easier.
Let’s rock ‘n roll!
Here is how I roll up my summer rolls:
There are many different methods, but this one is easiest for me. Place veggies, herbs, avocado, lettuce, and shrimp very tightly on 1/3 of the slightly firm rice paper wrapper. I always place them on the bottom 1/3 of the rice paper so it’s easier to roll up. Don’t over-stuff the roll. Rather, begin with a small amount of filling then add a little more until you find what works with your size/brand of rice paper roll. Again, it just takes a little practice.
Roll everything up tightly– just like a burrito. To do so, gently pull up the bottom of the roll and roll over the filling. Then, roll and use your hands to tuck the filling in as you go. Remember, you want a very tight roll. You can fold in the sides of the rice paper roll if you wish, but sometimes I don’t.
You’ll get the hang of it after a couple rolls. When I first started, my finished rolls looked awkward and sad. Practice practice!
Fresh summer rolls are one of my favorite dishes to prepare because they’re (1) versatile based on what I have/are craving (2) healthy (3) so, so good and (4) three words: PEANUT DIPPING SAUCE.
The homemade peanut dipping sauce is one of the best parts of the dish. It’s very easy: peanut butter, hoisin sauce (found in the Asian section of grocery stores), garlic, a dash of Sriracha (that’s optional), soy sauce, and a little warm water to thin it all out. Topped with crushed peanuts and a sprinkle of crushed red pepper, this sauce is phenomenal.
This sauce is the perfect accompaniment to chicken skewers, noodle/veggie bowls, or raw vegetables. If I have leftover veggies from making the rolls, I dip them in the sauce.
These fresh rolls work as a light dinner, a healthy lunch, and one very impressive appetizer. Have fun!
The ingredients listed below are what I typically use. You can leave out any ingredients you don’t like and sub in ingredients you do.
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Homemade Fresh Summer Rolls with Easy Peanut Dipping Sauce
Homemade Fresh Summer Rolls with Easy Peanut Dipping Sauce are healthy, adaptable, and make a wonderful light dinner, lunch, or appetizer. Here's exactly how I make them. Serves 2-6 depending if it's a meal, appetizer, or how hungry you are.
Easy Peanut Dipping Sauce1
- 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
- 1 Tablespoon hoisin sauce2
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 1 clove garlic, mashed (or about 1 teaspoon minced)
- 1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce or a chile garlic sauce, optional for spice
- 1-2 Tablespoons warm water, or more as needed
- optional garnish: crushed peanuts, sprinkle of crushed red pepper
- 10 spring roll rice paper wrappers
- 1 large carrot, peeled and julienned
- 1 large cucumber, julienned (you can peel, but I don't)
- 1/2 of a large red pepper, julienned
- 1/3 cup chopped purple cabbage
- 1 ounce cooked rice noodles/rice vermicelli (optional)
- 1 avocado, sliced
- handful fresh cilantro (and/or mint, basil)
- 5 large green lettuce leaves (romaine, butter, etc), torn in half
- 20 medium cooked shrimp, peeled and sliced in half length-wise
- sesame seeds for garnish (optional)
- First, read through the post above to learn some tips/tricks for making these summer rolls. Also, make sure every single ingredient in the summer rolls is prepared/chopped/cooked before you assembling.
- Prepare the dipping sauce: You can whisk everything together in a bowl or use a food processor. I always whisk them because it saves me from cleaning the food processor. Add everything to a medium bowl (except water and optional garnish) and whisk until smooth. Add 1-2 Tablespoons of warm water or until you reach desired thinness. Pour into a serving bowl/ramekin and top with garnish. Set aside.
- Prepare the rice paper wrappers: Pour warm water into a large bowl or 9-inch square or round baking pan. The baking pan is what I always use. Working with one at a time, dip the rice paper wrapper into the warm water for 15-20 seconds (or whatever the package suggests). Usually it's around that time. You want the wrapper to be soft, yet still slightly firm and pliable. Immediately remove from the water and place flat onto a work surface such as a large plastic or ceramic cutting board. Sometimes I use a large wood cutting board, but the wrappers stick to it a little more. Pat the wrapper slightly dry.
- Fill the rolls: Place a few sticks of carrot, cucumber, red pepper, and a sprinkle of cabbage on top of the bottom 1/3 of the rice paper as explained and pictured in the post. Then, a small amount of noodles (if using), a slice or two of avocado and a bit of cilantro. Lay 1/2 of a lettuce leaf on top and 4 slices of shrimp on top-- as pictured above. Remember, do not overstuff the roll. Start small then add more, as needed, as you roll each one.
- Roll them: Roll everything up tightly. To do so, gently pull up the bottom of the roll and roll over the filling. Then, roll and use your hands to tuck the filling in as you go. It's basically like you're rolling a burrito! Remember, you want a very tight roll. You can fold in the sides of the rice paper roll if you wish, but sometimes I don't.
- After rolling each, place on a serving plate. Cut in half, sprinkle with sesame seeds, and serve with peanut sauce. This amount is enough for Kevin and I and there are always a couple leftover for lunch the next day.
- Make ahead tip/storing: Wrap rolls individually in plastic wrap (suggested to prevent sticking and then tearing) and layer in a tupperware between sheets of parchment or wax paper. Store up to 2-3 days. In terms of taste, the rolls are best served fresh the day they are made. Cover sauce tightly and store in the refrigerator for a couple days.
- Nut allergy? You can dip the rolls into soy sauce or this tasty dipping sauce or this chile lime sauce.
- Hoisin sauce is found in the Asian section of grocery stores. It's everywhere. It's a pungent sauce typically used in Asian cuisine as a glaze for meats, in stir fries, or as dipping sauce. It's where most of the peanut sauce's flavor comes from. I do not suggest leaving it out. This stuff is delicious!
- As I mention a few times in the post, these ingredients can be played around with based on what you like/dietary needs. The obvious necessary ingredients are the rice papers and crunchy veggies.
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