Spring is finally here and what better way to honor this time of year than with some vegan spring rolls. Food is closely tied with culture, family and experiences. I was first introduced to making spring rolls by my brother’s girlfriend. She and her family are Vietnamese, so I was honored and excited to learn a traditional recipe from her. I used some inspiration from the cookbook by ‘Cookie and Kate‘ to make my own sauce, since it is super fun and easy. I am a huge fan of peanut sauce and love to mix up yummy concoctions and play with flavor profiles. Just like the filling of the rolls, the ingredients for the sauce are whole, simple foods: peanut butter, tamari, apple cider vinegar, ginger, garlic and water. I like to keep things simple!
These gluten-free, vegan spring rolls meet the needs of people with food allergies and sensitivities. For the filling of the roll, you can use just about any veggies you like, such as green onions, yams or mushrooms. As you can see below, I kept it simple using just 5 brightly colored ingredients for my vegan spring rolls: carrots, onions, spring greens, red cabbage and tofu. This vibrant selection of veggies doesn’t just satisfy the visual senses however.
Why You Should Eat (Naturally) Bright Colors
The color of our food is an indicator of what nutrients they contains, the pigments themselves are part of a class of nutrients called ‘phytonutrients’. For example:
- Yellow and orange produce contains carotenoids
- Purple veggies, like cabbage, contain anthocyanins
- Greens contain chlorophyll
- Red produce contains lycopene
- White pigments, think onions and bananas, contain anthoxanthin
These pigments all function in unique ways. Some support heart health, while others are good for the skin, for example. In general, these phytonutrients fight disease, assist organ functions and keep us feeling vibrant. There is even research suggesting that eating a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables promotes mental health. Since each pigment relates to a specific process in the body, it is important to eat a variety of colors fruits and vegetables. That is why I chose my favorite vibrant veggies for this vegan spring roll recipe!
Bottom line: Eat the rainbow for good overall health!
The Best Way to Share Vegan Spring Rolls
When I made these with my family, we set all of the prepared ingredients on the table, each in their own dish. Everyone had their own plate and created her or his spring roll with with whatever ingredients they preferred. We all sat around the table, eating rolls and making new ones at our leisure. It is important to make time to share meals because its not just the food that nourishes us, but the experience with friends and family.
Spring Rolls with Peanut Sauce
Fresh, flavorful veggies wrapped in rice paper with sweet and savory peanut sauce for dipping. Food should be like this: beautiful, delicious and good for you.
- 2 cups spring greens
- 1/2 cup red cabbage shredded
- 1/2 cup carrots julienne
- 1/2 cup white onion julienne
- 1 14 oz package tofu baked at 350F for 45 minutes
- 1/2 cup almond butter
- 1/4 cup tamari
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 tbsp water
- 2 T ginger grated
- 1 T honey
- 1 T garlic minced
Grease a 15″ baking sheet and set the oven to 350 F. While the oven is warming up, open your 14 oz. package of tofu, wrap it in paper towels or cheese cloth to absorb excess water. Then, cut the tofu into long, thin pieces that will fit nicely into the roll. Place them on the baking sheet and drizzle some tamari over them, lightly. Leave them in the oven for 45 minutes, flipping them half way through.
Julienne the cabbage, carrots and onion. Everything except the spring greens will need to be cut into long thin strips. Chopping the veggies should only take about 10-15 minutes, so you will also have time to mix up the sauce before the tofu is done!
The sauce couldn’t be much easier. Simply mix all the ingredients together and voila! If you have a food processor, this is a great option so that the ginger and garlic become well integrated into the sauce and don’t leave you with chunks.
Once you have all your veggies prepped and your sauce is complete, start boiling water for the rice paper. If everything goes as planned, your tofu will just be getting out of the oven and has a few moments to cool off. It is best to use a large pot to boil water in, since the rice paper will need to be fully submerged.
- Place one end of the rice paper into the hot water and rotate so that all part of the rice paper become soft, but you don’t have to put your hands in the hot water! See the image above. It is easiest to use this method, instead of simply sticking the entire paper in at once. When the rice paper become wet, it can easily stick to itself.
- Place veggies and tofu in the center of the rice paper, fold the sides of the rice paper in and roll it up, similar to how you would make a burrito.