Meatless Monday-Summer Rolls to Warm up Your Winter

Feb 2012

I’ve stretched the boundary a bit for Meatless Monday, and although I’m not bringing you this recipe from India, it is Asian based. This dish had me at hello, but I’d always been afraid to try and make Summer Rolls. To my delight, I got a lesson from a friend and the rest as they say, is history.


Summer Rolls


1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
2 tablespoons fish sauce (such as nam pla or nuoc nam)*
2 teaspoons hot chili paste (such as sambal oelek)*
24 6-inch-diameter rice paper rounds**
24 large fresh basil leaves
48 large fresh mint leaves
1 1/2 large firm but ripe mangos cut into long strips
1 unpeeled English hothouse cucumber, cut into 1/4-inch-thick 2 1/2-inch-long strips
48 small fresh cilantro sprigs


Whisk first 5 ingredients in bowl. {Peanut sauce can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and chill. Rewhisk before serving, adding a little water if it’s too thick.}
Fill pie plate with warm water. Soak 1 rice paper round in water until softened, about 2 minutes. Remove round from water, gently let the water drip from round, and arrange on work surface. Dot with paper towel if very wet. Place 1 basil leaf in center of each round. Place 2 mint leaves atop each basil leaf. Place 2 mango strips, then 2 cucumber strips atop mint. Arrange 2 cilantro sprigs atop cucumber. Fold 1 edge of each round over filling. Fold in ends. Roll up rice paper rounds tightly, enclosing filling. Transfer to platter. Repeat with remaining rice paper rounds. Cover with moist paper towel, then plastic wrap; chill. (Can be made 8 hours ahead. Keep chilled.) Serve rolls with peanut sauce.
The rounds are tricky to work with at first. If they tear, don’t despair. It took me about 4 before I got a rhythm. Pick it up with two hands as if you were dipping a sheet of paper. Slip one in the water after you lay down the other, and the timing is good. They do stick when they touch, so just unwrap it after you’ve laid it down. Small tears will be sealed during the wrapping.
*Available at Asian markets and in the Asian foods section of many supermarkets.
**Thin Thai or Vietnamese wrappers made from rice flour and known as banh trang. Available at Asian markets and in the Asian foods section of some supermarkets.
The great thing about this recipe is how flexible it is. Substitute papaya for mango if you like it better. Add tofu or long pieces of shrimp { they look very pretty in the skins} and you’ve got a more substantial meal. I even think hard boiled eggs and string beans would be delish, something akin to Indonesian Gado-gado. Yum. And let me know if you come up with any other creative combos.

summer rolls closeup 2