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recipes, salad

Grilled Romaine Hearts with Roasted Red Pepper Dressing

Good evening, as they say.  Konbanwa (こんばんわ), as they say in Japanese.
Since today ended up being a sunny and event-free day (especially compared to the wild storminess of yesterday), Michael decided it would be a good day to fire up the bbq, which is a pretty rare event for us despite how everyone else in our neck of the woods gets all bbq-happy in warmer weather.  
But instead of just grilling some sort of veggie meat, we decided to try out an idea we’d been talking about for months – grilled romaine hearts, served as a salad.  

Grilled Romaine Hearts with Roasted Red Pepper Dressing
Makes four large side servings

For the Salad:

2 romaine hearts, cut in half lengthwise
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon dried parsley
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 slices of bread, any kind
For the Dressing:

1 red bell pepper, roasted and peeled (see directions below)
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon liquid sweetener (maple syrup, agave nectar, etc)
1 inch ginger root, peeled and chopped
1 small clove garlic, peeled and chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
Black pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
Directions:

1.  Start with the pepper.  Cut it in half and remove the pith/seeds.  Place it skin-side-up on a hot barbecue or an oven set to broil.  Roast the pepper for twenty to thirty minutes.  When done, the skin should be mostly charred.
2.  While the pepper is roasting, take the olive oil, parsley, and minced garlic and stir them together in a small bowl.  This will be used to brush the romaine hearts and the croutons. 
3.  When the pepper is finished, place it into a resealable plastic bag and let it sweat for fifteen minutes before peeling.  This will loosen the skin.  When it’s cool enough to handle, rub the skin off with your fingers.  Reserve the red pepper flesh for the dressing.
4.  While the pepper is sweating, take the herbed oil and baste about half of it on the romaine hearts. Cut the bread slices into 1/2″ strips and toss them in the remaining oil.  Place the romaine hearts cut-side-down onto a hot grill with the bread slices.  Cook the romaine for 60 seconds on each side, and cook the bread slices until toasted (about 5 minutes).
5.  To make the dressing, combine all dressing ingredients except thyme with the peeled red pepper in a blender and blend until smooth.  Stir in the thyme, and pulse in the blender a few times to break it up a bit.  .
6.  Slice the bread strips into square chunks.  Drizzle the romaine hearts with the dressing and top with croutons.

Eaten with a knife and a fork, this was a really fun and novel way to enjoy a romaine salad.  We’re definitely excited to try this concept with a Caesar dressing when we have access to our pantry again (we’re out of town right now).  Even though we couldn’t make the Caesar today, the roasted red pepper dressing paired very nicely with the grilled romaine, adding sweetness and zest to the salad, which was garlicky, fresh and a little smoky.

Grilling romaine is really quick and simple if you’ve got access to a bbq – we began by tossing the halved romaine hearts with a very simple garlic-herb-oil mixture.

Next, we threw ’em face-down on the bbq for about 1 minute, keeping the lid open (to avoid steaming the leaves and maintain crispness).

After a minute, flip them over and cook for about a minute more.  You should see some lovely grill marks on the lettuce halves.

When they’re done on the grill, serve ’em up with croutons and the roasted red pepper dressing (or Caesar dressing, or any dressing really), and enjoy a big side salad to your bbq’ed meal.  For a smaller portion, they could be cut in half again lengthwise and still hold together quite well.

Well guys, two weeks until we move to Toronto, and things have officially become crazy-busy.  You’ll probably see a little less of us in that time frame as we pack up our life in Saskatchewan, but hopefully we’ll still sneak in a brunch or two.  Take care!

recipes, salad

Kale and Quinoa Caesar Salad

Now that Allysia’s juicer has decided to self destruct, I can’t rely on fresh juice to fill my body with nutrients without also filling my belly.  Enter the salad.  A fresh, crisp salad is always a beautiful thing, but this time I wanted something a little jazzy, something with a familiar kick.  I wanted a Caesar salad, but without all the egg and anchovy.

Rather than just whip up a quick salad with some lettuce, dressing, and croutons I decided to make something a little more substantial. With my long work days and daily workouts I needed something with some heft.  I also wanted something with some carbs to keep me going and some protein to help build myself up.  I would have added an avocado for some healthy fat, but unfortunately there were no ripe avos to speak of at home.

I determined that my perfect post-workout salad was going to be served warm.  The green portion could come from some steamed kale, and the carbs and protein could come from some freshly cooked quinoa.  Tempeh bacon would top the salad off, adding the extra fat and heft that I was craving.

Warm Kale and Quinoa Salad with Caesar-Style Dressing
Serves 1

Ingredients:

Salad

1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
4 or 5 large kale leaves, roughly chopped
1 small carrot, shredded
1 tomato, sliced
1/4 bell pepper, sliced (I used a green pepper)
1/2 cup sliced cucumber
2 green onions, sliced
4 strips tempeh bacon (if desired)
Frozen Daiya vegan cheese, if desired

Dressing:

2 tbsp Vegenaise (or other vegan mayonnaise)
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 or 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed, to taste
2 tsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
Pinch salt
Ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:

1. Start by making the dressing.  Combine the Vegenaise, mustard, and olive oil in a small bowl and mix well.  Add the garlic, Worcestershire, salt and pepper and stir once more.  The dressing can be stored, covered in the fridge for a few days if required.  Make it a few hours ahead of time to let the flavors meld, if desired.

2.  Rinse the quinoa under cool running water for a few minutes, swishing them around to remove any leftover, bitter coating.  Place the quinoa in a small pot with twice as much water or vegetable broth (I use water with 1/2 of a bouillon cube).

3.  Cover and bring the water to a boil before reducing the heat.  Similar at low heat for about 20 minutes.  After the time is up, remove the pot from the heat and fluff with a fork.  Allow to sit for a few minutes.

4.  Steam the chopped kale by adding it to a large pan or wok with a little bit of water in the bottom.  Add salt and pepper, then cover the pan and boil the water for 6-8 minutes.

5.  Pan-fry the tempeh bacon for a few minutes each side with a small amount of olive oil.  The tempeh just needs to be heated through.

6.  When everything is ready, place the kale on the bottom of a small plate and mound the quinoa on top of it.  Pour the dressing over top of the quinoa and place the other veggies around it.  Top with the tempeh bacon

7.  Instead of some kind of vegan Parmesan cheese, I topped my salad with finely grated jalepeno-havarti Daiya, because that is what I had.  Freezing the Daiya beforehand allowed me to use my microplane to get a finely grated cloud of cheese on top of my salad.  Beautiful.

The salad dressing was really the closest to non-vegetarian caesar dressing that I have made yet, and easily one of the best that I’ve ever tried.  The mustard gives it a little kick while the Worcestershire sauce replaces the anchovy paste present in so many store-bought dressings.  Obviously, the vegan mayonnaise makes a good replacement for the raw egg always used in the really fancy stuff.  I always new that caesar dressings were not vegan, but I am just now realizing how ridiculously not vegan-friendly caesar salads are.  Eggs, fish, cheese.  What more could you not ask for?

I always like eating salads, and sometimes a simple salad is just what the doctor ordered, but every now and then you need something a little different.  This meal satisfied my salad cravings as well as my food-starved body’s desire for lots of hearty food.  See you next time, guys and gals.

recipes, salad

Carrot Ginger Dressing for a Meal-Sized Salad

So I’m not the biggest salad eater on the block.  It’s not salad’s fault – I like it just fine.  It’s just that I’m really picky about them.  Most restaurants charge way too much for skimpy portions with enough calories to fill you up for 15 minutes, and usually when I’m shopping I forget to add “random extra salad produce” to the list, and all of the other produce is spoken for in other meals.  Yeah, I’m a planner like that.

But occasionally I remember.  I think, “Damn, nothing would taste better for a Saturday lunch than a good ol’ salad.”  No, seriously.  Because when I make a salad, I make a freaking salad.

(Just so you know, this bowl is bigger than my head.)

Making a freaking salad means making a kick-ass dressing, or else what’s the point?  I’m not saying it needs to be complex, but it should definitely make you want to happily inhale your veggies.  If you’re looking for something new to try, give this carrot-ginger dressing a whirl – it’s packed with kick and flavor and now I want to eat awesome salads for every meal.

Carrot Ginger Dressing
Serves 2 large salads

Ingredients:

1 medium carrot, grated
2 tablespoons peeled and minced ginger
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons agave or other sweetener
2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/8 teaspoon cayenne powder

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until relatively smooth.  Serve atop your favorite greens and veggies and enjoy!

(The dressing wasn’t very photogenic, but I’m sure you can imagine it.)

Some of my favorite salad toppings include tomatoes, carrots, beets, avocado, olives and tofu.  Use your favorites, but keep in mind that different colors and textures make for exciting mouthfuls.  Tofu makes a good protein for meal-sized salads, but 1/2 cup beans (per serving) would also be awesome (chickpeas ftw!).  I like adding things like avocados and olives because they’re nice and filling.

Speaking of variety, nothing beats store-bought salad mixes.  Unless you’re the type to go through oodles of greens, they often provide a dozen different types of lettuce in a convenient package, which makes for a more interesting salad than using just a single green.  The exception I make is for shredded and massaged kale, which I find perfectly exciting all on its own.  Yup, I’m wacky like that.

And now I’m off to see the wizard, or something like that anyway.  This is my last official piano teaching week before I’m off to distant lands (Hi, Texas!).  So take care guys, and happy salads!

recipes, salad

Ethiopian Feast Wrap-Up: Stewed Greens

Originally I wasn’t even going to post this recipe (if you could call it that), since cooking greens is pretty self-explanatory.  But then the feast wouldn’t be complete – green foodstuffs are a great balance to all the heftier stuff on an Ethiopian platter, and just as deserving of a mention as everything else.

In a similar fashion to the other Ethiopian dishes (the red lentil stew, cabbage and carrots, and split pea stew), this one started out with a hefty glug of olive oil, which generous amounts of onion, garlic and ginger were sauteed in.  Then you add two bunches of chopped greens (I used chard and kale since it was handy), a cup of veggie broth, cover and cook, stirring every now and then.  The longer it cooks, the more tender the greens get – I cooked mine for close to 30 minutes and they were perfect – still had plenty of bite, which I like.

The only thing my platter was missing was a boring tossed salad – think iceburg, tomato and cucumber tossed in a simple vinaigrette.  Boring, yes, but it’s a perfect palate cleaner between bites!  Next time.  And believe me, there will be a next time.

Today’s my day off, and I was determined to carve out at least a couple hours of pure, straight-up, no-pressure fun.  Haven’t been doing enough of that relaxing thing lately!  Happily I was able to spend some time reading this afternoon, which is my idea of a party, no kidding.  What I’m really craving is a trip to the library for some good, dense non-fiction – comfort food for my brain.  Maybe tomorrow!

Take care, cats!

recipes, salad

Power Salad with Lemon Oregano Vinaigrette

Salads.  I have plenty of blogging friends who do up the salad thing on a regular basis and I really want to be one of those people, I do.  And I like salads well enough, but they don’t usually shout at me to make ’em. 


I can think of a couple reasons why – one of them is not spending the few extra bucks it takes to get a tasty salad mix, and fun stuff like sunflower sprouts or pea shoots.  You know, things that really make a salad exciting.  Another reason is that they need to have lots of different components to interest me, so that each bite of food is like a crazy adventure party.
So I took matters into my own hands and made a crazy adventure party salad – but I’m just calling it a power salad because it’s got lots of heft and staying power what with the tofu, sunflower seeds, olives and avocados.  I know that ‘power salad’ isn’t quite as exciting, but it is slightly more descriptive.  So we’ll go with it.

Don’t feel like you need to use tofu – use whatever.  Chickpeas or tempeh would be awesome here, especially if they’re seasoned/marinated.  Same goes for the sunflower seeds – I toasted them on a skillet in a little soy sauce to pack in a bit of extra flavor which I highly recommend, but plain seeds would be cool too.  Just not as cool.

And please – when making a crazy adventure party salad, use high quality ingredients.  Nothing like a salad to make you notice if anything’s sub-par.     

(I know 3 servings is kind of a weird number, but it’s also possible that what I deem 3 servings someone else would call 4 servings.  What can I say, I have a big appetite.)
For the Salad:

1 container mixed greens (somewhere around 2 cups per serving)
3 large carrots, shredded
2 medium beets, shredded
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 big handful of sunflower sprouts (or pea shoots)
1/2 cup kalamata olives, chopped
1-2 avocados, sliced (depending on appetite)
6 tablespoons toasted sunflower seeds
1 block tofu, cut into slabs and marinated (I just do a soy sauce/lemon juice mixture)

For the dressing:

1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 small clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon prepared mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, minced

Directions:

1. Arrange all of the salad ingredients in an aesthetically appealing way, because if you’re going to eat salad, why not make it beautiful?  Also, it’s not worth worrying about specific portions with this – I seldom if ever measure salad ingredients.  Do what’cha want!
2.  Make the dressing: combine the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, sugar, mustard and salt in a small blender and blend until emulsified.  Alternately, you can give the ingredients a good shake in a small jar, or whisk ’em with a fork.  Stir in the minced oregano.  This dressing has some definite oomph so a little goes a long way – 2 tablespoons was enough for me and my giant salad.

You can also make the salad pretty when it’s to-go style, too!  I just held off adding the tofu (to let it marinate longer), avocado (it browns) and tomato (it gets mushy), but they can be easily sliced up at work or wherever you’re taking it. 

When I eat salads like this, I’m in love.  The dressing is really nice too – tangy with that earthy oregano flavor.  I love this time of year, where fresh herbs become abundant!

And now, folks, I’m off to jam and then drive off to Saskatoon for a comic/anime convention.  Apparently the voice actor for Fry (Futurama) will be speaking there, so I’m pretty stoked!  So I’ll catch up with you guys on the flip side, and have a great weekend! 🙂

bowls, recipes, salad

Tabouleh

Tabouleh is the answer to “What the hell do I do with that giant-ass bag of parsley languishing in my fridge?”

I’ve embellished the original version of Tabouleh by adding some kidney beans and avocado (kind of like the parsley-free tabouleh I made a while back) to make this grain and herb salad meal-sized, since oftentimes I’m only in the mood to make one big bowl of goodness, as opposed to a whole bunch of dishes, which then creates a whole bunch of dishes in my sink.  One-bowl meals all the way!

Tabouleh
Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cup dried bulgur
2 1/2 cups water
2 cups cooked kidney beans
1 generous cup diced cucumber
1 cup minced fresh parsley
3 medium tomatoes, chopped (canned and drained work fine)
Flesh from 1 avocado, diced
2 tablespoons minced fresh mint
2 tablespoons minced red onion
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
3/4-1 teaspoon salt, or to taste

Directions:

1.  In a medium saucepan, bring the bulgur and water to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the bulgur is tender.  Set aside to cool.

2.  In a large bowl, combine the cooked bulgur with all of the other ingredients and stir well to combine.  The Tabouleh will taste really good right after it’s made, but it’ll get even better once the flavors have time to get to know each other for an hour or more.  This makes a light meal all unto itself, but can be enjoyed with hummus, fresh veggies and bread or pita for maximum awesome.  Nom.

If you’re not going to be eating the entire recipe in a day, don’t add the avocado until you serve it.  Brown avocado is sad.

Oh!  You guys should check out my new and awesome banner, made by Logan.  Isn’t it ridiculously adorable?  Cuteness overload!

recipes, salad

Creamy Asian-Style Sauce

We’re finished!

On Friday, my band finished recording all the tracks for our album, so now we get to sit back and listen to the magic the engineer and producers come up with.  Fittingly, I saved the last song on the CD to record last, which was fun because I got to do some experimenting, like screaming.  Heh heh!  But it is a rock album, and it’s kind of a dark one so it seemed fitting.  You won’t get to hear anything for a long while, but I’m way too excited to keep this all to myself.

And just in time for our completion of recording, we’re playing at O’hanlons next Friday, which will be tons of fun since that place gets packed.  I can hardly wait.

Through all of this hustle and bustle, Logan cooked for us more than he normally does (which, to be honest, is pretty much never).  He told me he uses my blog to find recipes, which I thought was super cute, but the other day he was complaining to me that I don’t have any sauce recipes for things like stir fries and rice bowls.  Which is strange because we eat stuff like that all the time.

So today I feel compelled to share an Asian-style sauce recipe that was delicious and creamy and went perfectly with noodles and veggies.  Let me say that I love peanut and tahini sauces, and it’s awesome to use nut/seed butters to make a luscious, creamy sauce that tastes great and is made from whole foods.  But sometimes you want the creaminess without the distinctive flavor.  In this case, I had some leftover silken tofu in my fridge, which was perfection blended up with some simple things like soy sauce, ginger and garlic.

This recipe calls for 1/2 cup of silken tofu for two huge servings, so if you have some tofu left over, you can blend it into smoothies (yum!), turn it into a chocolate mousse (super yum!) or blend it up and stir it into creamy soups to add a little thickness and richness.  It’s a really versatile ingredient and virtually tasteless, so why not?

Creamy Asian-Style Sauce
Enough for topping 2 huge bowls of noodles and veggies


Ingredients:

1/2 cup silken tofu
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon agave or brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon dark sesame oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon peeled and minced ginger

Directions:

1.  Combine all ingredients into a small blender and blend.  Uh, that’s it.

Pour this sauce over a big bowl of noodles and veggies, or even brown rice.  Since it’s a creamy sauce, it would stand up well to a thicker noodle like udon, but I think pretty much any would work here, except maybe a really thin and delicate noodle.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to enjoy the long weekend with lots of piano playing, jamming and some Sim City.  Hope your weekend delivers noodles oodles of awesomeness!

recipes, salad

Kale Coleslaw

The other day I blogged about a red lentil and quinoa dish which was accompanied by an emerald-green kale salad.  Knowing me, I probably said something lofty like “this is my favorite kale salad ever”, but it’s true.  It’s simple, raw, and the dressing is salty, savory, and destined to top sturdy kale leaves.

I admit there’s also a sentimental attachment to this recipe – it’s the one I made for my food demo at school.  We picked recipes at random, and I was ever so pleased that I ended up with a kale recipe.  Seemed fitting, especially since I scored a button in Portland that says “Kale!” with a thumbs up.

Raw kale scares people, I get that.  It’s this super-tough leaf that looks as though you’ll need to chew fifty times just to break the thing down.  And then there’s people who say that kale is boring (hi, Mike!), or who think it’ll be this intensely bitter leaf like dandelion greens or something.

As most of us kale enthusiasts know, though, the leaves can be softened and moistened by a simple massage with a little oil and salt.  I also maintain that kale is best shredded finely, which yields the most tender bite possible.  This transforms the raw leaves into something palatable with only a whisper of bitterness – if kale were a fairy tale, it would totally be Cinderella, with the whole magical transformation thing.

As for kale being boring, you could say that about virtually any food.  Carrot sticks are kinda boring by themselves (though I still love ’em), but they’re quite wonderful dunked in a good dip, or roasted in the oven with a little salt and maple syrup.  Salad greens are boring without a dressing, sauteed chard begs for some garlic and fresh lemon juice, and broccoli turns into an epic comfort food with the addition of a cheesy sauce. Kale just politely requests that you prepare it in an exciting manner.

Kale Coleslaw
Minor tweaks made to a Living Light recipe
Makes 4 fairly substantial side servings


Ingredients:

1 bunch kale, destemmed and cut into thin ribbons (about 2 cups packed)
2 cups shredded cabbage (any kind)
2 tomatoes, diced
1/4 cup red onion, finely julienned

For the dressing:

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons light miso paste
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon agave (or sugar)
1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/4 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste

Directions:

1. Place the shredded kale in a large bowl and massage it with your hands for 30 seconds or so.  It’ll turn a darker shade of green and begin to break down a little.  Add the cabbage, tomato and red onion and toss to combine.

2.  Make the dressing: In a small bowl, combine all dressing ingredients by whisking with a fork.  Pour the dressing over the kale mixture and toss it well to coat all of the veggies.  I like to get my (clean) hands in there and rub the dressing into the leaves a little.

Enjoy this salad immediately, or at least try not to let it sit any longer than a day – though it has never lasted that long between Logan and I.  So. Damn. Tasty.

This kale coleslaw goes great with pretty much anything, like the quinoa/red lentil dish mentioned earlier, or as an accompaniment to a meal of burgers and fries.  I’ve also been known to eat it as a meal unto itself, particularly when I was recipe testing for my school project.

Definitely not boring.

So without further ado, I’ll catch up with you guys at Christmas with a little surprise. 🙂

recipes, salad

Pomegranate Couscous Salad

Pomegranates!

Every time pomegranate season rolls around I get all excited and buy a whole bunch of them, only to later find I resist eating them.  If you’re a pomegranate eater, maybe you know what I mean.  It’s not the taste; the little pomegranate jewels are better than candy.  It’s the fact that it takes so long to separate the seeds from the pith, and no matter how careful I am, the red juice seems to get everywhere.  Oh pomegranates, you’re the only fruit worth the trouble.

So when I do finally harvest the tart little seeds, I feel compelled to do something interesting with them.  As much as I enjoy grabbing handfuls and eating them au naturel, it seems as though they should serve a higher purpose than just flying straight into my belly.

This time around, that higher purpose is a Pomegranate Couscous Salad, a tame melangee of Middle Eastern flavors.  The tang of the pomegranate seeds plays nicely with the vegetable broth-infused couscous, rounded out with some chopped almonds for texture, fresh parsley and a smattering of earthy pea shoots.  No single flavor dominates the dish, kind of like a string quartet, you know, lovely harmony without anyone going all rogue rock star.

And I should mention that Logan has declared “the best salad ever” and got excited about eating twice in a row.  I didn’t particularly expect this to be the salad that pleases my man, but hey, surprises are the spice of life.  I sure don’t blame him.

If you need some instructions on how exactly to deal with pomegranates, check out this tutorial with pictures, which is super handy.

Pomegranate Couscous Salad
Serves 4 as a side

Ingredients:

1 cup vegetable broth
1 cup couscous
1 small clove garlic, grated or minced
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon agave
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

3/4 cup fresh pomegranate seeds (about 1 medium)
1/4 cup fresh minced parsley
1/4 cup almonds, chopped
1 handful pea shoots
Salt, to taste

Directions:

1. In a small saucepan, bring the vegetable broth to a boil.  Add the couscous, cover, and remove from the heat.  Let it sit, covered, for 5 minutes, and then fluff with a fork.  Let it cool to room temperature (put it in the fridge if you want it to cool faster).

2. Place the couscous in a large bowl, along with the garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, agave, cinnamon and cayenne and stir well.  Add the pomegranate, parsley, almonds and sunflower sprouts and toss to combine.  Depending on the saltiness of your vegetable broth, you might want to add 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon salt, to taste.

Serve with hummus and toasted pita or bread, with a fresh-sliced tomato on the side if you so desire.

Note:

The pea shoots bring an earthy balance to this pomegranate couscous salad, but if you can’t find them, I suspect many young tender greens would work just fine.

Well to all my fellow Canadians who are celebrating Remembrance Day, hope your long weekend is great and the weather holds out.  And for everyone else, happy 11:11:11 day, and be sure to make the best wish ever.  Au revoir!

appetizers, recipes, salad

How To Roll Summer Rolls: A Pictoral Guide


One very, very important skill I learned at Living Light was how to roll summer rolls, or fresh rolls, or Vietnamese rolls, or whatever you enjoy calling them.  Pre-culinary school, I just didn’t know how to get them looking pretty and enticing – instead, they tended to look rather mangled.  But the technique is actually very easy and I want to share some diagrams I made so that you can roll ’em up in style, too!

First things first: Start with two rice paper wraps instead of just one.  This makes your roll far easier to … roll. Soak the rice paper sheets in warm water for about 30 seconds, until they start to soften but aren’t goopy and shapeless.  They should still be a little firm, which makes them easier to roll and hold their shape better when you’re cutting them.

Not only is it a-okay to have veggies sticking out the sides, it’s desirable.  Trust me, it’ll look awesome.  I like laying a couple of romaine leaves on the first third of the rice paper wraps, leaving a little room on the edge closest to you so you can roll it up easier.  Then you can basically pile up whatever you want on top – cucumber, kale, carrots, red bell pepper and avocado all make smashing choices.  Make sure your veggies are thinly julienned for the ultimate roll experience.

Now you just roll it up tightly, kind of like a burrito but without tucking in the sides, which actually makes rolling these much easier.  Squeeze it tight while you roll – the tighter and more compact it is, the better the final product will hold together when you serve it.
Each roll you make will yield 4 pieces.  Follow the above diagram for slicing instructions – if you follow those instructions, you’ll end up with beautiful rolls that look something like this:

What you should be left with are spring roll slices that don’t fall apart and are aesthetically pleasing.  In my opinion, presentation usually makes a huge difference on how much we desire to eat something, and these summer rolls, served with a thick peanut sauce, are so cute and yummy that you totally don’t think about how you’re basically just eating a big salad.  Love ’em.

I’ll catch up with you folks tomorrow, and I’m quite excited that I’ll actually have a bit of time to play in the kitchen for the first time in several days.  Keepin’ my fingers crossed that experimentation goes well and delicious results occur.  Toodles!