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Fresh Spring Rolls

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I love the difference between summery and wintery recipes. Whilst in winter we crave warm, comforting stews, baked potatoes and hot, spicy curries, when it is hot we need something light, fresh and fragrant. I have wanted to make these fresh spring rolls ever since I visited Vietnam, but I’ve only recently come across the rice papers that you need. You can presumably order them off the internet, but I stumbled upon them in my local whole food store, when I wasn’t even looking for them.

These are fun to make and surprisingly filling, but so moreish at the same time! The rice papers can be a bit fiddly to start with, but you will get the hang of it very quickly.  There is much debate over whether raw or cooked vegetables are better for you… and after lots of research, I have come to the conclusion that you should eat a mixture of both. Raw vegetables contain so many vitamins, minerals and enzymes needed for digestion that are denatured by the cooking process. Raw vegetables are also extremely high in fibre, which is great to an extent, but can be hard for your body to digest if you over do it. Cooking softens the cellulose fibre (a plant fibre which is very difficult for humans to break down), and some vegetables, like tomatoes, area actually better for you when cooked. They contain lycopene, a very strong antioxidant, and studies show that tomatoes contain a higher level of lycopene when cooked than when raw. On the other hand, the vitamin C in many fruits and vegetables can be destroyed through cooking… You could go on comparing the pros and cons forever, but seeing as there are plenty of healthy and happy raw vegans out there, they must be doing something right!

The raw vegetables in these give them a delicious crunch, and along with the mixture of fresh herbs, these really taste like summer to me.

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Ingredients:

(quantities are up to you, depending on how many you want to make)

FOR THE SPRING ROLLS:

Spring roll rice papers

Courgette

Carrot

Spring onion

Basil

Mint

Coriander

Spinach

Finely chopped peanuts

FOR THE DIPPING SAUCE:

2 tbsp soy sauce

1 tsp sesame oil

1 tsp mirin

1 tsp sesame seeds

Finely chopped chilli (amount depends on how spicy you like it)

Small knob of grated ginger

Drizzle of honey

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Method:

Finely slice your carrot, courgette and spring onion into thin batons and shred the herbs and spinach. Soak rice papers (one by one) in hot water for 10 seconds (or according to instructions on the pack), then place on a board. Dab dry, then place a few batons of each veg, a sprinkling of each herb/spinach and a few chopped peanuts into the centre of the paper. Fold in the sides of the paper to cover the filling, then roll from the bottom all the way to the top. Most rice paper packets will have images and instructions to explain this.

For the sauce, mix all the ingredients except the sesame seeds in a pestle and mortar, then stir in the sesame seeds before serving.

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