What better way to kick off our first backyard hangout of the season than with food that has the word SPRING in it?! We had my parents and brothers over for Mother’s Day this past Sunday and we were blessed with fabulous weather! I was honestly walking around with the hugest grin on my face all day… because, seriously, how can this weather not lift your mood?
Well, I guess I didn’t have said grin on my face when my guests showed up a bit early and I totally wasn’t ready for them yet. Thank goodness they’re family and it doesn’t really matter! I had visions of having everything in place and being calm and collected while greeting our guests, and then have the time to immediately sit down with them to enjoy healthy appetizers in the form of fresh, veggie loaded spring rolls.
Yeah, I may have still been running around with a tablecloth in my arms, with half chopped veggies laying on the kitchen counter when the family walked in the door. There was a bonus surprise for them when I was finally done making the spring rolls and they weren’t allowed to touch them until after I took pictures. Like I said: Good thing they’re family! And very patient when hungry…
Ok, so back to the food! My friend Isabelle made fresh spring rolls over the holiday season last year and I have seriously been thinking about them this whole time! Her secret, magical ingredient was: mint! I had never had spring rolls with fresh mint in them before, but it is addition totally works. And I have to admit, I have always been extremely intimidated by using rice paper wraps. What if they stick together or rip, or what if all of the veggies fall out as I am trying to roll it?! I can happily report that all of those fears are entirely invalid! It was pretty easy to work with!
I love that these spring rolls are light and fresh, which makes it perfect as an appetizer. Sometimes we have so many rich appetizers or snacks before a dinner or barbecue that we feel full and heavy before the meal is even ready. Does that sound familiar? Especially now that it is getting warmer out it is nice to eat something light before dinner. Now I just need a glass of ice cold Pino Grigio!
What you need:
- Rice paper wraps
- A large flat bowl (or serving dish) with warm water
- A clean tea towel
- Pretty much any fresh vegetable you have on hand. I used: leaf lettuce, red pepper, carrot, and avocado
- Mint leafs
- 1 lemon
- Sweet chili dipping sauce
- Cut your selected vegetables in thin long strips. Try to cut them the full length of the finished roll, that way the strips won’t move around too much inside the roll.
- Pour warm water in your flat dish. Place a rice paper wrap in the water for about 5-10 seconds or until it is soft.
- Gently remove the rice paper wrap from the water, using both hands. Carefully place the wet wrap flat on a clean tea towel.
- Arrange your vegetables and washed mint leaves in a line right in the middle of the wrap. I used about 7 mint leaves per wrap.
- Fold the left and right sides of the wraps in towards the middle of the wrap. This will sort of form a vertical rectangle in front of you.
- Next, fold the bottom half of the rectangle over the vegetables and tuck it in gently underneath your veggies.
- Gently roll the spring roll upwards until it is closed up at the top. You will notice that the rice paper sticks nicely to itself and you have a cute little burrito.
- Use a sharp knife to cut the spring roll right in the middle and place on your serving tray. Repeat until you have all the spring rolls you want.
- Cut the lemon in half and squeeze the lemon juice all over the spring rolls – this will make it extra fresh tasting!
- Pour some dipping sauce (I used a sweet chili sauce) into a separate bowl and serve together.
What I will do differently next time:
- Try to wrap the rolls tighter so that the insides don’t try to escape when you bite into it.
- Put the sauce inside the rolls. This will prevent double dipping!
- Experiment with different vegetables, herbs and meat!
Yay – spring is here!!!