Having spent my teens and most of my twenties as a vegetarian (gasp!), I came to appreciate the beauty of an easily customizable recipe. Now, with a three year old in the house, I still appreciate a recipe that I can easily adapt to any dietary restrictions or picky eaters at my table. These Fresh Summer Rolls with Peanut Dipping Sauce certainly fit the bill. Quick, customizable, fresh, and full of flavor, summer rolls are also perfect for those sticky dog days of summer when turning on the oven is the last thing you want to do!
I have to say, this is much more of a general how to rather than a recipe. The basic summer roll consists of fresh vegetables and protein, all rolled up in rice paper and served with a flavor filled dipping sauce. I am partial to the Vietnamese style of summer roll and love these with cold shrimp and a spicy peanut sauce. They are equally delicious with just vegetables or even with some marinated and sautéed tofu! Working with the rice paper does have a little bit of a learning curve, but once you get it down, these rolls are quick and easy to prepare and work well as an appetizer or as a light summer meal.
I like to start with sweet, cooked and cooled shrimp. I slice them in half lengthwise and add a mixture of shredded romaine leaves, matchbook carrots, thinly sliced cucumber, and a smattering of fresh mint or basil. I also love a hint of thinly sliced red pepper for color. I top this with a small amount of vermicelli (rice noodles) and wrap it up in softened rice paper. Chill for 10-15 minutes, slice in half, and serve.
I typically serve these summer rolls with a peanut sauce that I borrowed from the genius Jenny Rosenstrach of Dinner: A Love Story fame. Originally intended as an accompaniment to her amazing Grilled Chicken with Peanut Curry Sauce (which is amazing), it works perfectly for these summer rolls. The recipe can be found in her book, Dinner: The Playbook. I highly, highly recommend you buy this book. I use it all the time! Warning: the peanut sauce is somewhat addictive. It comes together easily in a blender so I frequently double it to appease my peanut loving husband. It is also wonderful with grilled chicken skewers, or (thinned out with a little water) as a dressing for an asian inspired salad.
I hope you enjoy these Fresh Summer Rolls with Peanut Sauce. I’m off to make some myself…
- 1 package rice paper rounds (you will need 12 for the recipe, but I like to have extra on hand for tears)
- 2 ounces vermicelli, cooked per package instructions
- 12-14 large shrimp, cooked, peeled and deveined
- 2-3 romaine lettuce leaves, finely shredded
- 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into fine match sticks
- ½ english cucumber, deseeded and cut into match sticks
- ½ red pepper, sliced into fine ribs
- Handful of fresh mint
- ¾ inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled
- 1 small clove of garlic, peeled
- ½ cup creamy peanut butter
- 2½ tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
- juice of ½ lime
- 1 teaspoon light brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (feel free to use less if you prefer your sauce more mild)
- ⅓ cup of water
- Prepare and assemble all your fillings at your work space.
- Fill a large, shallow bowl with warm water and place it next to your work station.
- Take 1 rice paper round and submerge it carefully in the water until it softens. Place on your cutting board/work station and smooth out. Gently pat dry with a clean kitchen towel.
- On the lower ⅓ of the round, layer your fillings: 2-3 halved shrimp, 2 tablespoons of noodles, 1-2 tablespoons of lettuce, a few carrot and cucumber sticks, a few slices of red pepper, and a small sprinkle of mint.
- Wet your fingers (to keep them from sticking to the rice paper), slowly wrap the ingredients into an egg roll shape, tucking in the ends.
- Slice in half and serve immediately or refrigerate, covered with a damp towel, for a few hours until ready to serve.
- In a high powered blender (like a blendtec or vitamix), add in the water, peanut butter, soy sauce, and then the remaining ingredients. Blend until smooth. Refrigerate for 10-15 minutes to allow flavors to blend and then serve with the prepared summer rolls.