Tonight, one of our professors is hosting our class at his house for a final potluck.
I just spent a beautiful afternoon with the windows open, listening to the birds chirping their tiny hearts away, while I made spring rolls.
I almost chose to pick up something at the store and instead, spend the afternoon on one of my take-home exams. But ... life is short. I love cooking — or assembling, in this case — and it's been far too long since I hung out in the kitchen.
And you earn an entirely different education when you try a new recipe. (New anything, really.) I learned, for example, that rice paper comes in flat, hard discs, stacked like thin records. You soak them in warm water for 45 seconds, and they become pliable, easy to fill with veggies of your liking.
Here's my version of the recipe. They would be fun to do with friends on a summer afternoon, light and fresh and totally customizable.
Thai Spring Rolls
This is a variation of several recipes I read today.
- Small bag of shredded carrots (I had a 10-oz bag and used not even half of it)
- Small carton of bean sprouts (maybe 2 cups?)
- 3 bell peppers, cut into thin strips (I used a yellow, orange, red; any of those would be better/sweeter than green)
- Rice papers (I got a big disc of them in the Asian food section of Kroger's; way more than I could use for $2.50)
- Bunch of cilantro, chopped
- Bunch of basil (could also add mint, as some recipes suggest), whole leaves are fine
- Bunch of spring onions, chopped
- Lettuce leaves (I used green leaf; Bibb would be nice)
- Peanut sauce (I omitted the tomato paste)
Set out everything in an assembly line.
Fill a baking pan with warm water. (As hot as the tap gets is fine.)
Let a rice circle soak in the water until flimsy, 45-60 seconds.
Set the rice paper on wax paper (or parchment).
Place a small lettuce leaf at the bottom third of the rice circle, leaving an inch of rice paper on the perimeter.
Put a few shredded carrots, a few pepper strips, a little bit of bean sprouts, a sprinkle of cilantro, a few chopped green onions on the lettuce leaf.
Drizzle a spoonful of peanut sauce on the pile.
Roll it up from the bottom. Stop half way, add a basil leaf and a strip of bell pepper.
Tuck in the sides. Finish rolling it up.
Place it on wax paper somewhere else to keep.
Continue until you've made enough.
To store (can be made 6 hours ahead of time), wrap in damp paper towels and store in plastic bags.
Serve with more peanut sauce on the side.