Today’s recipe (s) is one that I am really excited about sharing with you. I have had so much fun playing with/inhaling various versions over the past week. I really hope you want to try it. It hasn’t all been plain sailing though: poor Mr A has been pining for hot food (I think I heard him say ‘steak’ in his sleep), but he still cheerfully chomped his way through platters of rolls and sauces. What a trooper. Miss R is away in Geneva so has missed out on most of the concoctions. But because I’m a nice mum, I will make as many summer rolls as she can tackle -
if she brings back the black truffle brie that I asked for.
In my eagerness to create/eat I bought up the local Chinese grocer’s stock of rice paper rolls. So, flush with a surfeit of ingredients, I went a bit wacky with the experimenting: Swedish summer rolls, anyone? Actually I think that is a success so I will share it at some point. But the lead recipe is my favourite.
I have just cottoned on to the fact that this blog-writing ruse is a great way to justify a spot of greed. Experimenting and making a mess in the name of research. Love it! But I will try and limit it to the healthy stuff. Like these fabulously nutritious rolls. Yeah, I know the the rice is white, but with all the other unprocessed and nutritious ingredients rolled in we can cut ourselves a little slack. If you can get hold of brown rice wrappers, then be my guest. In fact, had I the right kind of brown rice noodles (I usually do but didn’t on this occasion) they would have been used instead of the vermicelli. But anyhoo, stuff these little hot water dipped pancakes to the gunnels with freshness and piquancy in the knowledge that not only do they taste fantastic, they are perfect parcels of goodness – and summer.
And that’s my angle today: to me, summer rolls just say ‘summer’. Funny that. As our Scottish – nay, British – summer has itself been on holiday somewhere warm and sunny, it is up to food to put me in a carefree mood. And these delicate yet somehow robust translucent rolls do it for me. I hope they do it for you to. If it stops raining around here they will make it into the picnic basket, along with a giant umbrella. Just in case.
You probably know this, but summer rolls are Vietnamese in origin, where they are called goi cuon – literally, salad rolls. They sometimes get called crystal rolls and fresh rolls. So delicious and simple are they that the idea has been endlessly adapted. Much nicer and less guilt-inducing than their fried spring counterpoints, in my opinion. Most traditional recipes will included boiled and sliced pork and fried egg, while vegetarian versions use tofu rather than pork and prawn. Always with sour-hot nam chuoc. I could drink the stuff. Tempting coffee cup of it below.
This recipe is verging on traditional, but with a few foodtoglow tweaks. The biggest being the lack of beansprouts. With the recent link between beansprouts and a major E. coli outbreak, I didn’t think it responsible to include them. But I’ve added plenty of crunch to make up for their absence. I was also thinking that, like lettuce leaf-wrapped Vietnamese pork balls, you could forgo the rice wrapper and fold all of your ingredients in a soft butter lettuce leaf, maybe tied with a chive. Ooh. Now I’m going all fancy.
Another change is the sauce. Usually peanut, I thought almond would be a slightly better health choice. And I love the flavour. If you can’t get affordable almonds go ahead and use peanuts or even peanut butter, but the almonds are sine qua non to me. Nutritionally they are very similar, despite peanuts being legumes and almonds being the seed of the fruit of the almond tree. I always thought that peanuts had pro-inflammatory arachidonic acid, but I was wrong and they may actually be anti-inflammatory, like nuts themselves.
Plus points for all nuts are that they may help to protect against cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cholesterol problems, gallstones and possibly colon cancer. And rather interestingly, almonds in particular may help with weight issues: a one ounce portion a day has been recommended for those trying to lose weight as the combination of their protein content and monounsaturated fats promote satiety and fat-burning. And, peanuts and peanut butter may help keep your weight up when undergoing cancer treatment. I recommend it as an add-in to banana smoothies and some prescription supplement drinks.
A one ounce serving of either nut delivers about 160 calories, 14 g fat (almonds have more healthy monounsaturated fat) as well as Vitamins E, B2, B5 and calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc and Omega 9 fatty acids. Because of the high vitamin E and zinc content both nuts are a must for those wanting better skin. Can’t get enough information about almonds? Then click here.