Vietnamese food is a cuisine that I CRAVE! Full of antioxidants and vitamins naturally and a perfect balance of spicy, sweet, salty and sour… it’s totally addictive. It originates from a climate very similar to our hot, sticky Texas summer weather so these Vietnamese Spring Rolls are a natural go-to for us in the summer.

Both versions of this recipe are light, and my boys love them, it’s basically salad in a roll format so how much more summer-light and healthy can you get.

These rolls are also a way to wrangle your family into helping since it does involve a lot of prep. (No cooking, though!)

Vietnamese Spring Roll Ingredients

In spite of the many prep steps, the ingredients are very interchangeable.

Other than needing rice paper wrappers (see photo below for what to look for) to roll everything in, you can certainly work with what you have on hand. Don’t have them or following Paleo or Whole30 guidelines? Use butter lettuce or collard green leaves.

Here are the basic ingredient categories:
  • You can use any sort of salad greens:  very thinly sliced cabbage, bok choy, lettuce, spinach, mixed greens.
  • Herbs can be any tender herbs you might find in an Asian garden:  cilantro, basil (any variety will work, but Thai basil if you have it is the best), mint, chives, scallion (green onion) tops – the green part.
  • Fillers can be any very thinly sliced (matchsticks) vegetables you might have around:  summer squash, carrots, scallions, cucumbers, sweet peppers, radishes even young turnips.
  • While tonights’ version was strictly veggies, IF I have them prepped and ready I might include some cooked rice noodles, but you could certainly use warm, cooked rice or cauliflower rice to give them more density also.
  • And finally, for vegetarians or those observing Meatless Monday you can use thin egg omelets cut into strips or you can use cooked shrimp or chicken for other not-so-food-conscious days.  If you leave all animal protein sources out though as I did today, you can make peanut sauce that will more than fill the protein needs.
  • Peanut Sauce – This is important and really the secret to getting my kids to eat these when they were younger. Read on for Whole30 and Paleo friendly options

Peanut Sauce Secrets

My peanut sauce is so easy, I trained my boys to make it when they were in elementary school because they practically drink it. Peanut butter is the base, but you can use any other nut or seed butter along with sesame oil to get the same effect (and make it Whole30 and Paleo friendly.) The whole idea with Southeast Asian food is to balance sour, salty, sweet and heat.  So when it tastes good to you and all those things are balanced it’s ready to go. When my kids make it for themselves they tend to leave out the heat part so no chile garlic sauce for them. For salty, I add coconut aminos for Paleo and Whole30 but you can certainly use organic tamari or good quality organic soy sauce, maple syrup or coconut sugar for the sweet element, rice wine vinegar or lime juice for sour and chile garlic sauce or red pepper flakes for heat.  until it tastes good to me.  

Prep for Making Vietnamese Spring Rolls

So here’s how it all goes down.

  1. Prep all your greens, herbs, veggies, noodles, sauce and protein sources if using. (May want to call in the troops for this or use it as your Zen time.)
  2. Make your sauce.
  3. Set a pie plate of warm water next to a large clean countertop area or cutting board for rolling.
  4. Grab your family to help with the next few steps for sure.

Vietnamese Table Salad Option

So full disclosure, I actually only made one spring roll tonight.  I was feeling lazy and my family was too busy at the moment to recruit them for rolling so I did this version instead. Place the prepped ingredients that you have in mounds on a large platter leaving room for a few ramekins of extras. Arrange large romaine, iceberg or butter lettuce leaves on another platter.  Fry some shallots in peanut or grapeseed oil (or whatever kind you have) until brown, drain on paper towels then place in a ramekin and sprinkle with salt.  Add a ramekin that has chopped peanuts, cashews or almonds, and make a quick dipping sauce from equal parts soy sauce, lime juice (or rice wine vinegar), agave and chile flakes.  Add a little sesame oil to balance it all out.  Instruct your family or guests to wrap what they want in a large lettuce leaf then spoon the dressing over each wrap.  This is called a Vietnamese Table Salad.

 

Vietnamese Spring Rolls with Whole30 Friendly Peanut Sauce

Ingredients

  • Peanut Sauce
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter (or any nut/seed butter)

  • 3 tbsp warm water

  • 2 tbsp coconut aminos (or soy/tamari)

  • 1 tbsp maple syrup or coconut sugar

  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar or lime juice

  • 2 tsp chile garlic sauce or red pepper flakes

  • Spring Roll Ingredients
  • 1 package spring roll wrappers

  • or 10-12 large butter lettuce collard green leaves

  • Shredded lettuce or cabbage

  • Shredded or matchstick cut carrots, summer squash, peppers, etc.

  • Cooked shrimp, shredded chicken or thin omelet cut into strips

  • Leaves of cilantro, mint and basil

Directions

  • Make Sauce
  • Whisk together all sauce ingredients and taste. Add more of any ingredient until it tastes equally balanced with sour, salty, sweet and heat, if using. Set aside or divide between tiny dipping sauce bowls.
  • Assemble Ingredients
  • Place rice paper wrappers next to pie plate. If using lettuce or collard leaves, just make a neat pile of them next to a large clean counter surface or cutting board.
  • Place remaining ingredients in individual bowls or have a large cutting board available with piles of each ingredient.
  • Make Spring Rolls
  • Place one rice paper wrapper in the warm water and move it around until it’s completely wet and soft.
  • Move it around until the entire sheet is saturated and soft.
  • Place some greens, herbs and veggies  and other filling ingredients as shown
  • Fold up the sides over the veggies
  • Roll…
  • and tuck the ends under to make a tight roll
  • Cut in half in the diagonal or in thirds to reveal the colorful middle.

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