It’s spring! The first edibles are popping up all around us – asparagus, mint, chives, sprouts and greens of all kinds to name a few. Last week it dawned on me for the first time that the name “spring rolls” might have something to do with the first offerings of spring. Sure enough, a cursory search revealed that spring rolls most likely originated as a seasonal food in China, where spring vegetables were wrapped in a pancake and enjoyed as a welcome change from winter preserves. The revelation that my first gleanings from the garden would go great with rice wrappers and dipping sauces became pure genius when I came across a simple idea for serving spring rolls family style. The save-the-cook solution to an otherwise tedious food is this: simply place a couple pans of hot water on the table so that everyone can soak their own wrappers and assemble their rolls right on the spot! The wrappers need only be dipped enough to wet them – by the time you lay them out on your plate and fill them, they are perfectly tender without falling apart. The only prep otherwise is to assemble a platter of whatever raw veggies you have, plus some chopped peanuts, bean threads or rice noodles, a meat of choice if desired, and dipping sauces. The platter pictured above includes pea and sunflower shoots, which we grow indoors year-round; asparagus, mint, and chives, which are perennials in our garden, coming back every year on their own; and shredded carrots, which store well throughout the winter. The noodles are prepared by soaking in hot water for 10 minutes, which means the only real cooking is to prep your meat of choice. We have been using ground pork and simply season it with some soy sauce and toasted sesame oil. Chicken or shrimp would also be lovely – whatever sounds good to you!
I hope you give this idea a try! It’s amazing how spring rolls totally up the enjoyment of raw vegetables. Even if you don’t have your own garden, get out to a farmer’s market and see what’s available. This is a great idea for having guests to dinner or getting your kids a little more into eating their veggies. Enjoy!