Sunday, December 11, 2011

Winter Spring Rolls

Holidays are upon us and I have so many things I want to share with you all for holiday party ideas.  Sadly, it's getting dark here now around 4:15 in the afternoon and the artificial lighting in our kitchen makes food pictures look yellowed and sweaty.   As a result, anything I want to photograph and post has to happen between 9 and 3.  I had big plans today to get the sprouted lentil loaf up here but ended up with a sprouted lentil mush that's tasty, but not exactly something to share with others.  Try and try again.  I've been trying to make a loaf without eggs and can't quite get it to hold together, I just may have to put the eggs in unless any of you have some suggestions...?

What I DID manage to get done today were these winter spring rolls.  I wanted to make something that could be easily taken to a potluck or a holiday party that utilized the flavors of the season.  So, I took the classic Vietnamese spring roll and winterized it.  The result is a rice paper wrap filled with roasted root vegetables, lemony shredded kale, bell peppers, and sprouted lentils for added crunch.

The individual elements can be prepared ahead of time and then assembled when you're ready, and there are lots of possible variations depending on what you have in your fridge.  Spinach or arugula could stand in for the kale, and steamed winter squash, parsnips, asparagus, and shredded red cabbage would all be great additions.

Root Vegetables:  1 big sweet potato, 1 big purple turnip
1 medium bunch kale
1 Red or Orange bell pepper
1 lemon
Rice noodles
Rice Paper
Olive Oil
1 t ground cumin
1 t ground coriander
1 T dijon or whole grain mustard


Start by roasting the vegetables. 
  • Preheat oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil
  • Peel the vegetables and cut into finger sized strips.  (I had huge veggies so I just used half of each and still made about 15 rolls.)
  • In a large bowl, pour in a medium glug of olive oil (about 2 T), along with the cumin, coriander, and a big pinch of salt
  • Toss the vegetables in the oil to coat.  I think less is more with the oil - get the veggies moist but not drippy
  • Spread on the prepared pan and bake for 25 - 35 minutes - until soft and browning on edges

While the vegetables roast, prepare the kale.
  • Use the same bowl you used for the root vegetables - no need to wash it
  • Whisk together the juice of one lemon, a small glug of olive oil, a pinch of salt, a few cracks of pepper, and a tablespoon of your best mustard
  • Wash the kale (dry it with a salad spinner if you have one), cut away the thick stems, and chop into thin ribbons.  
  • Add the kale to the bowl, and mix thoroughly with your hands.
  • Set aside

 While the vegetables finish roasting and the kale marinates, prepare the noodles and any other raw veg.

  • Boil the rice noodles in salted water until soft, following package directions.  If you've never worked with them before, they only take a few minutes.  
  • Rinse under cold water, drain thoroughly, and toss with a teaspoon or two of oil to prevent stickage.
  • Cut the bell pepper into thin strips
  • Fill a large bowl with warm water - this is what you'll use to soften up the rice paper


  • Soak a sheet of rice paper in warm water until soft, then lay out on your clean work surface.  When you take the first one out of the water, start soaking the next one so that it'll be ready for you.
  • Layer a small amount of each of the ingredients in the middle of the wrapper.
  • Fold up the bottom, fold in the sides, then roll from bottom to top.  It will seal itself.
  • Voilà!  You just made beautiful winter spring rolls that will impress all your friends.
  • Serve as is, or with a tahini dipping sauce.
Renee, my mischievous assistant

Tahini Dipping Sauce

Lemon Juice
Ground cumin
Ground coriander
Sesame seeds

I just made this sauce off the cuff and didn't write down ratios.  Play with it until you find something that works for you.  In a small bowl I whisked together a few tablespoons of tahini, the juice of half a lemon, a splash of water and a splash of tamari.  Then I added a teaspoon or so of the cumin and coriander and a tablespoon of sesame seeds.

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