Spring Rolls

What did you have for lunch today?

Was it tasty? Was it healthy? Was it difficult to make?

Did you buy it from a store? Did you reheat it?

Lunch, for me, is usually reheated leftovers. Or some ingredients smushed between two pieces of bread. I love eating lunch, but I rarely make it. When I whip up “spring rolls”, though, I feel good about lunch. It tastes nice. It’s fresh, and yummy, and there’s no guilt involved. It’s healthy and fun to make.

If you want to make my version of spring rolls you only need two things: rice paper and veggies. No deep fat fryer involved!

I found these at both local chain grocery stores (Metro and Provigo), but if not there, they are sure to be found at your local Chinatown or ethnic foods store.

I like to use my favourite flavours, namely: avocado, yellow pepper, cilantro, cucumber, carrot, shrimp.

(But broccoli, edamame, tofu, cabbage, tomato, or anything you have on hand will work well too!)

The most complicated part of making this lunch is this: fill a rimmed pan with warm water and let the rice papers sit in it one at a time for about 2 minutes, or until soft and pliable.

Carefully lay the paper out on a cutting board, and pile on the ingredients of your choice! I like to use the ones I listed above, but if I don’t have those, anything will do. I like to add a tiny bit of sauce for extra flavour – either soy sauce or Sweet Chili sauce (I use this one, but it is not $36 at the grocery store! That’s the online price for a box of six).

Om nom nom! And you just wait – this may seem like a weird way to eat a big pile of ingredients, but the rice paper somehow ties it all together! Something about the rice paper makes things taste better, seriously.

Now for the rolling. This is the tricky part – it’s hard to get a small, compact roll with all that stuff in there. Here’s what I try to do.

Okay: I wasn’t able to take a picture of this very well, but the first step I do is to lift the bottom edge of the paper up and over the pile of ingredients, tightly sealing them in and then flipping them over once to be very securely wrapped in paper. Then I fold in the sides, as tight as possible – that’s what this picture is trying to illustrate! Then I roll it up, again as compactly as possible.

Whew. So hard to explain. But it’s okay, because it’s all about trial and error anyways! My method is not necessarily the best one, it’s just what I found works the quickest.

Here’s what you end up with:

Yummy! I promise, if you give this simple recipe a try you will not be disappointed. I can see it being a fun idea for a potluck: everyone brings ingredients, and it’s make-your-own spring roll combos for dinner! Or a cute snack to make with kids, I bet they’d love to build their own food themselves. And it’s relatively kid-proof too – as long as it gets rolled it’s done! By the way, the rice papers are incredibly cheap, and there are over 100 papers in one package. Amazing ingredient to work with.

What do you think of this lunch/snack/dinner idea? Do you think it’s doable? Do you think it would be tasty?

I’d love to know if spring rolls are in your lunchtime future! :)