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Veggie Spring Rolls with Curried Peanut Sauce

As part of our collective resolution, I have been making more veggie based dishes the past few weeks. I am trying to go further towards veganism and the bf is progressing towards more healthful food in general. So where there once was turkey sandwiches, there are now veggie spring rolls! I love collard green wraps as well, but we are baby stepping the carnivore.. Collard green wraps to come 😉

Veggie Spring Rolls are SUPER easy to make, especially once the mess is out, so I prep a bunch for the week all at once. There are a couple specialty items, tapioca Spring Rolls sheets and rice noodles, that should still be available at most large grocery stores. I like to use the remnants of last weeks produce to reduce waste and clear out the fridge before grocery day.

 

Veggie Spring Rolls

GF, Raw, Vegan, Grain Free optional

INGREDIENTS

Prep for 2 rolls for lunch, for 5 days

10 Spring Roll sheets (Common brands have clear packaging and and elephant pictured)

1/2 package rice noodles (optional, can fill with all vegetables to make grain free)

2-3 carrots, shredded

1/4 head of purple cabbage, shredded

1 english cucumber, sliced into matchsticks

1 small avocado, sliced thinly

few sprigs of herbs (cilantro, parsley, mint, or basil)

*Bean sprouts, lettuce (optional)

before

Cook noodles according to package directions, drain, rinse and set aside. Heat water to simmer in wide skillet, then remove from heat. One sheet at a time, soak tapioca sheets until soft and pliable. Only soak until they are soft enough to roll, longer and they fall apart. They are very forgiving (and cheap) though, so have no fear if the first one (or five) messes up! You can do it.

Remove the sheet from the water, lay our flat on a cutting board or clean counter top. I like to start by putting a few leaves of whatever herbs you are using down first, because I think its pretty. Keeping things centered, lay a slice of avocado down and a pinch of carrot on top. Then cucumber sticks atop the carrot to create another base. I then sprinkle cabbage along the side of the pile and noodles on top of everything. This is how I do it, but it can absolutely be customized according to what you like or think is pretty.

Then fold the “sides” of the paper in like you would a burrito. then take the side closest to you and bring it over the top of the veggies to the far side. Continue to roll the far side of the paper has wrapped around to create a tidy little Spring Roll. Ta-Da! You did it, knew you could. Know, if your first one looks wonky or you didn’t get the wrap quite right, its ok! You have 9 more to practice on, and it will taste the same regardless.

*Note- All ingredients, except for the tapioca sheets, are optional. You can mix and match and use whatever you have on hand! This is simply what I had on hand at the time. The recipe is based off of Vietnamese Goi Cuon.

finished

Now, while vegetables are great and all, its really about transporting the saaaauce. These are often eaten with Sweet Chili Sauce, or Peanut Sauce. Both store bought versions of these sauces have A LOT of sugar though, so that kinda counteracts the whole “eating healthy” thing..

 

Curried Peanut Sauce

GF, Vegan

INGREDIENTS

1 Thai pepper, stemmed, seeded and minced

2 garlic cloves

1 T grated ginger

1.5 t curry powder

1/3 c water

1/3 c creamy peanut butter

3 T rice vinegar

2 T Bragg’s or tamari

2 t organic sugar (depending on what type of pb you have, many have sugar added)

Add all ingredients except water to bowl and whisk together. Add water slowly while mixing until desired consistency has been reached. Adjust seasonings to taste, and try not to eat it by the spoonful.

Carrot Top Pesto

40% of food in the US is wasted. 40%! While half of the world starves, the US throws out half of their food. I really don’t like kitchen waste and do my best to minimize it in my home. Plus, that means most American families spend around $1500 a year on food that they throw away.  (stats from savethefood.com in case you like a more reputable source than my personal blog..)

So I will now step off of my soap box, but that is what inspired me to use every bit of what I buy. I bought a bundle of carrots for my Roasted Carrot Polenta, but then I had these gorgeous greens sitting there and I simply couldn’t throw them out. What to do with extra greens? Pesto! I use the term pesto loosely, as a green, herby sauce. I had some extra herbs left over from Christmas, and keep pine nuts in the freezer, but no basil. So maybe chimichurri would be a more appropriate title?

DSC_0380

Carrot Top Pesto

GF, DF, Vegan

INGREDIENTS

Tops from 1 bunch carrots

Handful of parsley

2 springs of mint

2 T Silician Lemon Basalmic Vinegar (This was a Christmas gift from a specialty store, if not on hand, sub 1T lemon juice to taste)

1 T white wine, optional (the Lemon Basalmic was rather sweet, this can be omitted if using lemon juice)

1-2 cloves of garlic

1/4 c pine nuts

1/2 c Olive Oil

1/2 t Salt

Add all ingredients to the food processor and combine until it reaches desired consistency, add olive oil if thinner pesto is desired.

I served this on top of roasted yukon potatoes with garlic chicken breast.

Roasted Carrot Polenta

I had never before made polenta. In fact, I don’t think I had ever eaten polenta. It was one of those things that when I saw it listed on a menu I just read – butter. I am unfortunately intolerant and thought that this, and risotto, were not in the cards for me. But alas, the modern miracles of food have brought us things like Earth Balance and Ripple. It has never been easier to be dairy intolerant and I thank my lucky stars for that.

When I saw Roasted Carrot Polenta on Naturally Ella it really piqued my interest. I was on a mission to make polenta! While Bend, OR has made great progress in recent years on the food scene, it is still surprisingly difficult to find more niche ingredients. I usually only run in to this with Asian items, so I was very surprised when I could not find polenta. The only place that carried it was Food4Less, and they were sold out! Now, usually this just means an order from Amazon, but I was determined to make polenta, tonight.

What’s the difference between polenta and grits, anyway? Standing in the grocery store frustrated at the lack of selection, I googled this. Turns out, not much. Polenta is a dish usually from a certain type of italian corn (otto file) that makes the porridge slightly creamier with a richer corn flavor. But it can absolutely be made with medium grind cornmeal, so that’s what I did. Thrilled with my self for finding a way around this minor obstacle, I went home to conquer polenta.

Roasted Carrot Polenta with Toasted Walnuts

GF DF Vegan

INGREDIENTS

Carrot Puree (makes 1 c) –

1/2 lb Carrots

2 Garlic cloves

2 t Olive oil

Pinch of salt

Polenta –

2 c water

1/2 c medium grind corn meal (or otto file polenta if you can find it!)

1/4 t salt

2 T Ripple brand half and half (or heavy cream, if you’re one of the lucky ones)

1 T Earth Balance (or butter)

1 c Carrot puree

1/4 c toasted walnuts

4 Sage leaves, optional

polenta

Preheat oven to 425f and line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Wash and chop carrots in to 1/2″ chunks, no need to peel they’re being pulverized anyway. Place carrots on sheet pan and drizzle with olive oil and salt. Roast carrots for 20 min or until soft and beginning to brown around the edges.

Add water to a medium sauce pan and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and whisk the corn meal and salt in. Let simmer for 20-30 minutes on the lowest possible setting. Low and slow is the way to go! If it thickens up too much, add a splash of water.

While the polenta cooks, place the roasted carrots and garlic in to the food processor and combine until smooth. Add 1 T of liquid at a time as needed to have a thick, but smooth consistency.

It is also a convenient time to toast the walnuts while the polenta cooks.

Once the polenta has thickened and is a nice consistency, remove from heat. Stir in the half and half, carrot puree and pad of butter (I mean Earth Balance, but we can pretend, right?)

If you do choose to add sage, simply melt Earth balance over medium heat. Add sage leaves and fry 1-2 minutes on each side.

Top with the toasted walnuts and sage.

I served this with brussel sprouts, the bf also had a brown sugar chili pork loin with his.

Turns out, polenta is a very doable, fairly hands off process that resulted in an extremely tasty and versatile base. This is readily done with common pantry items, and carrots are resilient to frost and grow quickly during the summer, making them an appropriate year round crop.

Here goes nothing..

Summer+Spoon is my new food project. It is my personal challenge to try new things in the kitchen; new techniques, new flavors. I look forward to challenging my self, setting new boundaries and, frankly, holding myself accountable as we bring in the new year.

Goals:

Post at least once a week (accountable, but lets start realistically here..)

Food based recipes with easy variations

Tasty, seasonal recipes

Lastly, to have fun the whole time. I am extremely type-A and this could get out of hand, I vow to myself that I will allow flexibility and possibly break all of these rules.

Here goes nothing!

xo Summer