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Summer rolls help squeeze veggies into the picnic


Summer rolls with spicy peanut dipping sauce are shown served on a plate in Concord, NH., in this image taken on May 13.

Summer rolls with spicy peanut dipping sauce are shown served on a plate in Concord, NH., in this image taken on May 13. Photo by: Matthew Mead/AP


Sara Moulton/The Associated Press



When it comes to packing a picnic basket, sandwiches are almost always the stars of the menu. And why not? They are easy to eat with your hands, pack well and are versatile enough to keep everyone happy. 


And for the rest of the meal, we tend to lean toward yet more finger food -- chips, cookies, hopefully some fruit. In other words, gobs of carbs. But vegetables? Not so much. 




Secret's in the sauce 


Conveniently, summer rolls can be made ahead of time, covered with damp paper towels and plastic wrap, and stored for up to four hours in the refrigerator. The damp towels keep the rolls from drying out and sticking to each other. And given their compactness, summer rolls also happen to travel well. You can layer them side-by-side in those plastic snap-tight containers, covered with the damp towels and wrap. 






Start to finish: 40 minutes 


Makes 16 rolls 




For the dipping sauce: 


3/4 cup smooth unsalted natural peanut butter 


1/2 cup hoisin sauce 


2 to 3 tablespoons lime or lemon juice, or to taste 


2 scallions, white and green parts, coarsely chopped 


1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce 


2 teaspoons sesame oil 


Hot sauce, to taste 


2 tablespoons water 




For the rolls: 


1 tablespoon rice vinegar 


1/2 teaspoon sugar 


Kosher salt 


1 cup coarsely shredded carrots 


1 cup shredded Napa cabbage 


Sixteen 8-inch rice paper wrappers 


1/2 medium jicama, cut into julienne strips (about 1 cup) 


1 cup thinly sliced red bell pepper strips 


1 cup blanched and thinly sliced snow peas 


32 large fresh mint leaves 




  • To make the dipping sauce, in a food processor or blender combine the peanut butter, hoisin, 2 tablespoons lime juice, the scallions, soy sauce, sesame oil, hot sauce and water. Puree until smooth. Taste and add more lime juice or hot sauce if desired, and additional water if necessary to thin the sauce to a good dipping consistency. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. 


  • To prepare the rolls, in a small bowl combine the rice vinegar, sugar and a hefty pinch of salt. Whisk until the salt and sugar are dissolved. Add the carrots and cabbage and toss well. Set aside. 


  • Fill a large bowl with hot water. Add 1 rice paper wrapper to the water and let soak for 10 to 15 seconds, or until just barely soft and pliable. Lay the wrapper flat on the counter. In the center of the wrapper, place a small, oblong mound of the carrot-cabbage mixture, then top with a bit each of jicama, bell pepper and snow peas. Top with 2 mint leaves. 


  • To fold the roll, start by folding the right and left sides of the wrapper over the fillings. Next, fold the end closest to you up over the fillings and sides. Holding the roll firmly, roll it away from you until the remaining wrapper is completely rolled up. Transfer the roll, seam side down, to a plate and cover with a damp paper towel. Repeat with the remaining wrappers and fillings. The vegetable rolls can be made up to 4 hours ahead, covered with a damp paper towel and plastic wrap and chilled. Serve with the dipping sauce.



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