I am in love with these vegetable summer rolls.
Here’s what makes them awesome:
- They’re super tasty filled with a combination of vegetables, meat, nuts, rice or seafood. The various textures and tastes are amazing.
- You can add whatever ingredients you want to accommodate for personal preferences or food allergies.
- They’re fun to make, especially if you get everyone around the table to roll their own.
- You can add veggies that are in season or just happen to be in your fridge.
- There’s an endless variety of dips you can serve them with – sweet, spicy, salty, mild or peanutty.
- They’re a hit at potlucks or parties.
- You can make them as an appetizer or main dish.
- They’re a great way to eat more veggies.
- They make fantastic lunches for kids and adults.
What’s the Difference Between a Spring Roll and Summer Roll
Both have a filling made up of some combination of vegetables, rice, meat or seafood rolled up tightly in a rice paper wrapper. While not an internationally agreed upon definition, most often the term spring rolls refers to deep fried rolls while summer rolls refers to fresh rolls.
But enough talk! I know you want to get right to it, so here’s a recipe for summer rolls that I developed for the good folks at CanolaEatWell and who have some awesome looking photos of these rolls.
The recipe is followed by more tips and photos for rolling success.
- 1 medium kohlrabi
- 1 medium carrot
- 1 sweet red pepper
- ¼ head small red cabbage, chopped
- 6 lettuce leaves, torn in thirds
- 5 green onions, chopped
- ½ cup fresh cilantro leaves
- 1/2 cup cashews
- 4 oz vermicelli rice noodles (1 block)
- 16 rice wrappers
- Wash, peel and cut kohlrabi, carrots and red peppers into equal sized matchsticks. Arrange on platter along with red cabbage, lettuce leaves, green onions, cilantro and cashews.
- To cook vermicelli noodles, bring large pot of water to boil. Remove from heat and add noodles. Let stand for 3-4 minutes until al dente. Remove noodles from water, rinse well in cold water, drain thoroughly and set aside.
- Fill a shallow bowl big enough to fit a rice wrapper with lukewarm (room temperature) water.
- Dip one wrapper into water until it is pliable but not too soft or flimsy, 8 to 10 seconds only. It will be easier to handle when it is slightly al dente and will continue to soften as you work it. Remove from water, shaking excess water from wrapper. Place on dry cutting board or large plate.
- Center lettuce strip on top of wrapper about 1 inch (2.5 cm) from the top leaving 1 inch (2.5 cm) on each side. The lettuce helps protect the wrapper from being pierced by the other vegetables. Top with a small layer of vermicelli, 2-4 kohlrabi sticks, 2-4 carrot sticks, 2-4 red pepper sticks, a bit of red cabbage, several cashews and a sprinkle of green onions and cilantro. Avoid overfilling the wrapper as it will be more difficult to roll.
- Bring top edge of wrapper tightly up and over the filling, pushing filling in with fingers. Roll slightly forward to completely cover filling.
- Fold sides to the middle of the roll. Continue to roll tightly until finished. Place on plate and cover with damp cloth while rolling others.
- Serve with your favorite dipping sauce.
- If making ahead, lay rolls in a single layer leaving space between each roll to prevent them from sticking to each other. Cover with plastic wrap or damp towels and store in refrigerator for several hours. For best results make the same day as you plan to eat them, as the rice wrapper will toughen and become quite chewy.
- Other filling ideas include: chicken, avocado, cucumber, mango, shrimp, pork, mint, thai basil, cabbage, mushrooms, ginger, garlic, etc.
How to Cook Rice Vermicelli
Rice vermicelli are rice-flour noodles often used in Southeast Asian cuisine. They come in different widths depending on what dish you’re making. For these summer rolls, the thinnest rice sticks are preferred. Be warned, these thin noodles cook up very quickly and can easily turn into a sticky, gummy mess.
To cook vermicelli noodles, bring a large pot of water to boil. Remove the pot from the heat and add noodles – seriously, there’s no need to continue to boil or cook the noodles. Overcooking them will make them sticky. Simply let stand for 3-4 minutes, stirring once with a fork. Remove noodles from the hot water and rinse well in cold water to prevent them from sticking to each other. Once you’ve thoroughly rinsed the noodles, drain well and use in your summer rolls.
If you have to store your cooked vermicelli, toss it in a teaspoon of oil to prevent stickiness.
How to Roll Summer Rolls with Rice Paper Wrappers
Like rice vermicelli, rice paper is super quick and easy to prepare but comes with the same warning regarding stickiness. Leave these wrappers to soak too long and they become super sticky and very challenging to roll.
The key is to soak one rice wrapper at a time in room temperature water for a mere 8 to 10 seconds. The wrapper should be pliable but not totally soft. Trust me on this. The wrapper won’t feel as soft as the final product you’re expecting. Don’t worry, as you continue to work with it, the wrapper will soften and by the time you’re finished, you’ll have the texture you want. By soaking it any longer, it will cling to itself and you’ll have a hard time getting it to roll nicely.
So, soak it only long enough to make it pliable but not soft.
Shake off any extra water. If you want, you can pat it dry with a towel.
Place the wrapper on clean plate or cutting board.
Place your ingredients 1″ from the top of the wrapper leaving 1/2″ on both sides. I start with some lettuce to protect the wrapper from being pierced by pokey veggies.
Fold the top of the wrapper over the filling while tucking in the filling with your fingers. You want it fairly snug, but not so tight that the wrapper rips.
Fold in each of the side of the wrapper and roll until the end. Notice how the wrapper has softened during the process. By this point, it’s perfect for eating!
Voila, your summer rolls are finished and looking fabulous!
Now the only question remaining is what kind of dipping sauce to serve with these. Whether homemade or store bough, here are some ideas to consider:
Sweet Chili Sauce
Let me know if you make a batch of summer rolls, how they turned out and your favorite sauce.
Sign up to get articles by Getty delivered to your inbox. You’ll get recipes, practical tips and great food information like this. Getty is a Professional Home Economist, speaker and writer putting good food on tables and agendas. She is the author of Manitoba’s best-selling Prairie Fruit Cookbook, Founder of Fruit Share, a mom and veggie gardener.