Salad rolls are one of those go-to items for me, I love that they’re so versatile! Throwing in rainbow colored veggies and making an assortment of different sauces, it’s just plain fun. They are healthy, relatively quick (once you get the hang of wrapping them up), and they don’t leave you feeling heavy or full. All of those things combined – for me anyway – make the perfect lunch… especially for days when a bowl of salad just isn’t what I’m searching for.
These were born after a trip to one of the Asian markets here in the city; a trip which was very successful considering I was looking for some fairly specific things. Thai basil, a herb that surprises me each and every time I go in search of it. I always expect it to be easy to find, tucked in with the other herbs in the greens section. Fortunately, I thoroughly enjoy going on a mad hunt all over town for single ingredients, fortunately I also feel very comfortable in ethnic markets and will often take the time to walk through every single isle. Asian markets hold a special place in my heart as Asia is where the bulk of my travel experience has been; walking in and submersing myself is the perfect way to spend an afternoon.
This trip to the market was not one of my typical, long, exploration types; this one had a bit more of a time line. To be able to spend the day with my man, making gyoza and bowls of green Thai curry meant we had to be in and out quickly. We headed straight for the herbs and mushrooms, then right on outta there. Lucky for me, we over did it on the herbage and after all was said and done there was plenty of the fresh green aromatic beauties left over. Alone with my herbs, my kitchen turned into a salad roll factory.
The one thing we impulsively purchased while at the Asian market, was a package of fresh green pepper berries (peppercorns). I had never until that day seen them fresh! Well, not here anyway. In China I had seen them, tasted them, but never here. I was so excited! I didn’t know what I was going to do with them, but was so super excited to have found the fresh little pungent berries that the very second we entered my house.. I popped one into Jonny’s mouth and forced him to chew it.
Once my salad roll making factory had begun to close shop, all herbs used and my fingers smelling absolutely divine from all of their fresh green herby oils. It occurred to me I hadn’t made a sauce. I know typically when you order salad rolls in a restaurant you get peanut sauce, often times with sriracha and crushed peanuts. Well I don’t usually have peanut butter, plenty of other butters, but that one I tend to omit (why have peanut butter when you could have cashew? Hazelnut? Almond?). Peanut butter is just not a favorite of mine. I did have, however, plenty sunflower seed butter and my fresh sambal. Perrrrrfect! Top it off with some fresh crushed green pepper berries, and voila!
Herby Salad Rolls
(Makes quite a few)
1 Package of Rice Paper Sheets
1 Small Package of Rice Noodles
1 Small Zucchini
3 Cups of Thai Basil
2 Cups of Mint
1 Bunch of Cilantro
Handful of Enoki Mushrooms
Romaine or Green Leaf Lettuce
Cook rice noodles as per package directions, julienne zucchini, slice the avocado and green onion. Rip individual leaves or groups of leaves from the Thai basil and the mint. Separate the cilantro, and enoki into small bunches and set out pieces of lettuce. Having everything set up and in reach is key! Fill a medium sized bowl with warm water, circling the first rice paper wrap into the water. Once the rice paper is wet and pliable, lay it flat on a cutting board or work surface. Begin stacking the filling ingredients on top of the rice paper, play around with it – depending on the size of your rice paper you might find it easiest to fill right in the middle – I personally find it easiest to fill the bottom third, leaving about two a finger width space at the bottom. Fold the bottom up, over top of the fillings, then the two sides before turning the roll onto itself and sealing up the top… and repeat! Don’t be discouraged, it can take a couple tries!
Spicy & Creamy Sunflower Seed Dipping Sauce
2-3 Tbsp Sunflower Seed Butter
1/4 Cup Warm Water
Sambal or Sriracha*
Green Pepper Berries*
Combine the sunflower seed butter with the warm water, stirring until it is your desired consistency. Whirl in some hot sauce of your choice, giving it a good kick of heat and finish it off with some hand crushed green pepper berries for a nice pungent finish.
*Optional, add in as much or as little as you’d like!