Eat Happy, Be Healthy!
Fresh rolls have always been near and dear to my heart. I remember the first time I made them myself. I worked as a waitress at a local Thai restaurant and decided I had to try making them myself. It can't be that hard, right?? So I made some deluxe fresh rolls filled with every vegetable I had in the fridge and lots of fresh herbs. They turned out even better than the restaurant version, which usually are filled with additional rice noddles and just a few veggies to keep the cost low. Instead my rolls were true SALAD rolls, full of flavor and nutrition. Over the years I have made a variety of different versions, but this one is very satisfying, including the texture of the bite and the flavor of the ingredients. When it comes to making fresh rolls, you want to try and avoid tough veggies to avoid breaking the rice noodle wrap. Alternatively, you have to process the veggies in a way to reduce their "breaking potential", for example grating carrots or making cucumber ribbons. The ingredients I chose for this version don't take much extra work, which is so important these days as I have a toddler running around. Plus, the sweet and spicy peanut (or almond) sauce is soooo yummy I use it as a salad dressing, drizzled over rice/quinoa bowls, and of course with these fresh rolls. Unlike the restaurant peanut sauce, this is made without sugar and processed oils, but still has a ton of flavor. I often use almond butter in place of peanut butter and it tastes just as delicious!
Fresh Lettuce: I always have a fresh head of red or green leaf lettuce on hand. For these fresh rolls I soak and wash the lettuce leaves and then remove the main bottom stem while I rip the leaves into smaller pieces. I choose this type of lettuce over romaine because it is more tender. You can use pre-washed packaged greens too, but they are generally not quite as gentle and "fluffy".
Zucchini Noodles: In place of the extra rice noodles that often make their appearance in restaurant fresh rolls, I julienne zucchini to make fine zucchini noodles. This gives the fresh roll a nice tender bite.
Mango: For me mango is essential in a fresh roll. It adds a little bit of sweet/sour flavor that really hits the spot in fresh rolls. They also provide a little bit of a meaty bite. Try to find a mango that is neither too ripe or too green so that you are stuck with fibers in your teeth or too firm of pieces that could break the rice wrap.
Avocado: Fresh rolls without avocado are just...not complete. Avocado gives the creamy texture that pairs wonderfully with mango. I suggest using a large avocado so that each slice is nice and thick.
Fresh Herbs: This part is the secret sauce!! I like to use a combination of cilantro and basil or cilantro and mint. I chop a good amount of both herbs and add a good tablespoon to each fresh roll. This provides a lot of flavor and enhances the freshness of the roll. Sometimes I also add in some fresh alfalfa or broccoli sprouts if I have them on hand.
Makes 4+ rolls
8 sheets rice wraps (2 per roll) - may make more based on ingredients available
Lettuce (washed and ripped into small pieces) or bagged mixed greens
Fresh chopped herbs (cilantro & basil or cilantro & mint or all three together!)
Zucchini, julienned into thin threads
Mango, peeled and sliced
Prep all the veggies first and lay out on a large platter. Place 2 inches of water in a large sauté pan and heat over high until simmering. Reduce heat to low. Place a large plate next to your stove for easy transfer of the cooked wraps.
Take two rice wraps and dunk the first half into the water for a few seconds. Gentle lay the cooked and soften end over the lip of the sauté pan so that the uncooked half is now immersed in the simmering water. Use a large spoon to press the wrap into the water gently. Then, using your hands, carefully pick up the part of the wrap that is over the edge of the pan, and transfer the wrap to your plate. This can be a little tricky because it can be hot on the fingers. Now it's ready to be filled!
First place a handful of greens into the center and top with a tablespoon or so of freshly chopped herbs. Then top with zucchini noodles, mango, and avocado. Gently fold the lower edge up and over the veggies, then fold in the left and right sides, and roll up like a burrito. Set aside and repeat with the remaining wraps. Cut in half prior to serving.
Serve with sweet and spicy peanut sauce as an appetizer or along side a protein of choice. In this picture I served my fresh rolls with pan seared rare grass-fed top sirloin steak cut into thin slices.
Tips: Use two rice wraps per fresh roll. This helps maintain the integrity of the roll and avoids tearing. Also, always start with the lettuce and herbs first, then top with the other ingredients. If you want to make the fresh rolls a complete meal, then you can add a protein (like tofu or shrimp) as well.
Sweet & Spicy Peanut Sauce
Makes ~ 1 cup
¼ cup coconut aminos (I used TJ's)
¼ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon grated ginger (I used microplaner)
1 clove pressed/grated garlic (I used microplaner)
Pinch red pepper flakes
1/2 cup salted creamy peanut butter (or almond butter)
Sea salt (generous pinch or two)
In a medium-sized bowl whisk coconut aminos, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, water, and maple syrup together with a fork. Add ginger, garlic, and red pepper flakes and whisk again. Add 1/2 cup peanut/almond butter and combine well. Season with salt to taste. Thin with extra water or vinegar if desired.
Note: This sauce/dressing thickens up a little when refrigerated. You can thin it with extra water or gently warm up in microwave for 5-10 seconds if desired.
I hope you enjoy my creative, flavorful, and nutrient dense approach to whole foods cooking. All recipes are gluten free.