In the past, whenever I go to Asian restaurants, I couldn’t resist a plate of deep fried spring rolls, deep fried wontons, deep fried chicken, deep fried tofu, and even deep fried bananas. See a pattern here? What’s the common thread? Yup, that they are all fried in a hot bath of gurgling oil! (Nowadays, I make wiser choices by avoiding these).
I’ve never – ever – given a dish like this fresh veggie summer rolls a second glance at a restaurant, because heck, there’s no cooking involved in this – even I can make this at home! But fried stuff? No, I can’t make those at home, because truly delicious deeply fried dishes always require a full vat of hot oil heated to the right temperature! Only professional restaurants can do such a beautiful job!
And that’s how my “restaurant logic” gave me trouble all my life.
As the years passed, I started to realize that my few pieces of fried-something-here and fried-something-there had added up to the excess fat hanging around my mid-section. Me and my mid-section…we are “frenemies!” Friends, because it carried me through 3 pregnancies even when I swore that all my ligaments and muscles were going to get ripped out (at my most pregnant, I had a 47-inch waist on my 5-foot frame). Enemies, because it’s the hardest part of my body to “shrink back” (those kids really did a number on me! Ha!)
So still, the belly blubber is adamant to stay with me just a little longer. How do I battle this problem? My genius brain told me that if you looked at every diet in this world, there is none that recommends feasting on deep fried foods! I’m S.O.L. Time to give up the crunch.
As an alternative to my favourite fried spring rolls then, I turned to these fresh veggie summer rolls for salvation. No nutrition or dietetics professional has declared fresh veggie rolls bad for you (ok, except maybe for Paleo, which will tell you to discard the rice paper). So, I am going out on a limb here to tell you that these fresh rolls are so good, so healthy, so nourishing! These rolls won’t be your “frenemies” – they’ll be your straight up friends for life!
|Fresh Veggie Summer Rolls||
- ~~ For the Fresh Summer Rolls ~~
- 1 yellow bell pepper, preferably organic, cut into squares, ribs removed
- 1 head green leaf lettuce, leaves separated
- 1 avocado, sliced lengthwise into strips
- 1 cucumber, cut into thin batons or julienned
- 2 carrots, peeled and cut into thin batons or julienned
- 2 – 3 leaves red cabbage, shredded
- 1 pack 16-cm (6-1/2 in) rice paper rounds
- ~~ For the Shallot-Horseradish Mayo Dip ~~
- 2 tablespoons Japanese mayonnaise (QP)
- 1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon shallot oil* (see Notes section below on how to make)
- 1 teaspoon prepared horseradish or freshly grated horseradish
- Prepare all the vegetables for the summer roll.
- Next, prepare the rice paper by dipping it into a bowl with very hot water. Dip the rice paper into the water until it is soft and pliable, about 5 seconds. Remove the rice paper rounds from the water and spread it flat on the work surface.
- Lay the yellow bell pepper over the bottom third of the rice paper, flattening it with your palm.
- Then, lay the green leaf lettuce, then top with avocado, cucumber, carrots, and red cabbage.
- Fold in the left and the right sides on the rice paper, then lift the bottom edge over the vegetables. Tightly tuck and roll the rice paper away from you. Continue rolling as tightly as possible until the roll is closed. Set aside seam side down.
- Place the roll on a plate and cover with a damp towel to prevent drying out the paper. Repeat with the remaining paper and fillings.
- Refrigerate the rolls, covered with the damp towel or with plastic wrap until ready to be served. Can be kept in the refrigerator up to 2 to 3 hours before serving.
- To make the shallot-horseradish dipping sauce, mix together the QP mayonnaise, lemon juice, shallot oil (see Notes for recipe), and prepared horseradish. Whisk or shake in a mason jar vigorously until well-combined.
- To serve, cut each roll crosswise, into desired size. Drizzle with sauce or serve on the side.
*To make the shallot oil, thinly slice 1 French shallot. In a small saucepan, heat a neutral oil (like grapeseed) to 275 F (135 C). Add shallots and fry until golden light brown, about 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer the shallots to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Then, place a fine mesh sieve over a heatproof bowl; set aside. Next, go back to your saucepan and increase heat to high until it reaches 350 F (180 C), then cook the once-fried shallots for the second time. Cook until they are crispy and a deeper brown, about 1 to 2 seconds. Watch that the shallots don’t burn. Pour the shallot and oil through the sieve. On this recipe, we only utilize the oil, so you can save the crispy shallot as garnish for other dishes.