Ever since we went to a local Vietnamese restaurant & I ordered some fabulous tofu summer rolls, I've been dying to make my own. There are many variations & the more I looked, the more intimidating it became. Most recipes involve a lot of steps, & the more cooked ingredients that go into the rolls, the longer the process becomes. I weeded through many recipes & figured in our taste buds before deciding on these ingredients. A lot of the recipes include rice noodles, but I'll admit that I just don't have the patience to bother with that mess!
We're growing what we thought were 2 kinds of mint in our garden. We started one from a bunch of chocolate mint from the market, & the other from a sprig of "mint" from the Vietnamese restaurant. We used a combination of the two in these rolls, & as you can see in the above picture, it's hard to really tell the difference. While we were eating, we could definitely taste a difference. As we were talking, I mentioned Thai basil & how it was in a lot of the recipes I found. When I googled it, we discovered that Thai basil is actually very similar to mint. It's recommended that if you do not have or can't find Thai basil, to substitute mint, not sweet Italian basil. Very interesting!
I'm excited that we're growing Thai basil & I can't wait to use it more now that I know what it is!
Don't let these intimidate you! From start to finish, you can have them done in just over an hour. We worked together to roll them, so if you have a friend/spouse to help, you can have a rolling party!
If anyone was wondering (like I did!), the main difference between summer rolls & spring rolls is that spring rolls are usually fried. I like the freshness (& healthiness) of summer rolls. I've tried spring rolls in restaurants & the flavor of the veggies doesn't come through as well.
I'm sure you could dip these in a sweet chili sauce, duck sauce, soy sauce, or many other things, but I'm partial to peanut sauce. I like it so much that I can remember my first taste!
I learned to like Asian while visiting my aunt in Oregon. I ordered plain broccoli & rice, no sauce, but the lady in the Thai restaurant told me she was putting on the sauce because I would like it. There was no arguing with her, & after I tasted it, I realized she was right! After that visit, we always went to that restaurant until one year when it closed. We tried a new place & that was where I had my first peanut sauce. I remember keeping the little bowl & using a spoon to eat the leftovers.
All that to say that making the sauce is definitely worth the extra step! Enjoy!
Veggie Summer Rolls
Inspired by OhSheGlows.com
Serves 2 as main dish or 4-6 as appetizer
10 Spring Roll Wrappers
1 block extra-firm tofu
1 large red bell pepper, julienned
3 medium carrots, grated
1/2 of a red onion, sliced
1/4 of a small cabbage, julienned
10 mint or Thai basil leaves (do not substitute regular basil!)
1 batch Mama Pea's Peanut Mmmm Sauce or other favorite sauce
Slice tofu into 8 pieces & press for at least 20 minutes. While the tofu is pressing, chop the veggies & make the peanut sauce. Place tofu on a baking sheet in a single layer & broil for 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Flip tofu & broil again for 5 minutes to brown the other side. Remove from tray, allow to cool slightly, & cut each piece into 4 long slices. Fill a large bowl with hot water (from the tap is fine). Lay out a clean dish towel. Submerge a spring roll wrapper into the hot water until soft. Carefully lay the wrapper on the dish towel & smooth out any folds or creases. Assemble ingredients in the center of the wrapper (I layed down a mint leaf, then 3 pieces of tofu, 2 red pepper sticks, some cabbage, & sprinkled onions & carrots on top). Fold in the sides of the wrapper. Fold down the top, then roll tightly. Set on a plate & repeat process with remaining wrappers. Serve immediately!