The Best Way to Make Whole30 Friendly Vietnamese Summer Rolls and Peanut Sauce

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 Summer 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!)

Ingredients for Vietnamese Summer Rolls

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 are all fair game.
  • Fillers can be any very thinly sliced (matchsticks) vegetables you might have around. Use summer squash, carrots, scallions, cucumbers, sweet peppers, radishes even young turnips.
  • Vegetarians can use thin egg omelets cut into strips. 
  • Whole30 Friendly 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

Paleo and Whole30 Friendly 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 typically the base, but to make it Whole30 and Paleo friendly, you can use any other nut or seed butter along with sesame oil instead. 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 which also offers a naturallyl sweet flavor without added sugars. Rice wine vinegar likewise is naturally sweet but also sour. I always add chile garlic sauce or red pepper flakes for heat, but you can certainly leave those out. 

Prep for Making Vietnamese Summer 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  cashews or almonds, and make a quick dipping sauce from equal parts coconut aminos, rice wine vinegar and chile sauce.  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.

The Best Way to Make Whole30 Friendly Vietnamese Summer Rolls and Peanut Sauce

Ingredients

  • Whole30 Friendly Peanut Sauce
  • 1/3 cup almond butter (or any nut/seed butter)

  • 3 tbsp warm water

  • 3 tbsp coconut aminos (or soy/tamari)

  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar

  • 2 tsp chile garlic sauce or red pepper flakes

  • Spring Roll Ingredients
  • 1 package spring roll wrappers (not Paleo and Whole30)

  • or 10-12 large butter lettuce collard green leaves for Paleo and Whole30

  • 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 Summer 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.
  • Follow the same thing if using lettuce or collard leaves. Lettuce leaves will make more of a taco, but collard leaves you can wrap more like the spring roll wrappers.

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