Sunday, 26 August 2012

Salad and Seaweed Rice Paper Rolls

Things are starting to warm up a bit here! The sun is out most days which is incredibly exciting. Of course, spring isn't quite here yet, the evenings are still pretty chilly and being anywhere except directly in the sun is far from warm. I'm such a sucker for spring though, and therefore I have completely over reacted to this mild sunny weather. The other day I woke up and the sun was out so I joyously donned a t-shirt. It was a silly idea, I ended up putting a big jumper over it.

Similarly I have completely moved into a summer foods frame of mind since the arrival of the sun. For me summer means salads, chilled soups, fruit salads, daiquiris, ice tea and rice paper rolls. Yum! Bring on that summer! So today when thinking about what to have for lunch I went straight to a summer favourite - rice paper rolls (also called Summer Rolls). Summer rolls are a wonderful avenue of creativity because you can put whatever you like in them (check out my Cambodian Ginger Tofu Summer Rolls).

These rice paper rolls are a bit different to the norm. I essentially just made a shredded salad and then rolled them up in rice papers. The idea behind this was that you can just dress the salad and then you won't need to make a dipping sauce with them, which just saves a bit of hassle (and ultimately saves you throwing out half a bowl of dipping sauce because you invariably have to make too much!). It worked perfectly, the rolls are juicy and delicious on the inside of a neat little bundle of noodle.

I recommend these highly as a tasty entrée, savoury afternoon tea or a lunch for one. If you want to double the recipe they'd be great as part of a picnic, or just a lunch for two :)

8 rice paper rolls
1/2 cup shredded baby cos lettuce (or use other firm lettuce)
1 carrot, grated
1 cucumber, finely diced
1/2 cup alfalfa sprouts, separated with your fingers (so they don't clump)
1 sheet dried nori seaweed (the kind you make sushi with)
2 tbsp chopped fresh mint
1 tbsp white sesame seeds
Juice of 1/2 lime
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp rice wine vinegar

To Make
1. Combine the lettuce, carrot, cucumber, alfalfa sprouts and fresh mint in a bowl and mix together well.
2. Finely shred the nori seaweed and mix through the salad.
3. Add the lime juice, soy sauce, sesame oil and rice vinegar and stir though. Set aside while you prepare your other things to let the dressing soak into the ingredients.
4. Lightly toast the sesame seeds in a non stick saucepan for about 30 seconds, or until browned (do not take your eyes off them or they will burn!). Allow to cool and then mix through the salad.

5.  The packet of rice paper rolls will most likely have instructions on the back on how to use them, you can follow these (and skip ahead to step 7). If yours doesn't - here is what you do:
6. Get a deepish dinner plate and fill it with boiling hot water. Carefully slide your dry rice paper roll under the water (don't just place it on top - this will make it curl up) and leave in for about 5-10 seconds. Carefully pick it out and spread it out on a board ready to roll. You will find that as the water in your plate cools down a bit you will need to leave them in for longer to cook properly. You will probably have to replace the hot water after every 3-4 rolls.
7. Now you have your rice paper ready add about 2 tablespoons of the salad to the middle of the bottom of the paper.

8. Roll the bottom of the paper over the filling and then fold in the sides. Continue to roll until it is all together (like you would roll a spring roll, or a cigar - because we all roll cigars all the time!).
9. Repeat for the other 7 rolls.

~ Stir the salad before making each roll, this ensures that the dressing doesn't just sink to the bottom to make the last roll very soggy and juicy
~ When I fold the sides of the rice paper roll in during the rolling, I always taper the fold inward slightly, so that it forms a nice neat roll with no untidy bits on the sides
~ These are best eaten the day that they are made (preferably within a couple of hours of having been made)
~ If you want to make these slightly more filling you can add a slice of avocado to each roll -yum!

Makes 8 rolls.

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