Veggie Spring Rolls with Almond Butter Dipping Sauce

in Recipes

Time to take a trip to Thailand. Specifically to Mukdahan, a tiny town in the middle of rice-field-nowhere that I had the pleasure living in and teaching English in for about five months. Mukdahan is located across the Mekong River from Laos, which is located next to Vietnam. Because of its close proximity to Vietnam, Mukdahan found itself with a lot of cultural influence from the Vietnamese people who lived there. Nothing demonstrated this more than the Vietnamese food that lined the night market and the small noodle shops scattered about town.

Among the usual Vietnamese treasures like noodle soups, rice cakes, bánh mì, and shrimp pancakes, there were always spring rolls; perfectly rolled and fresh spring rolls.

Traditional Vietnamese spring rolls are made with doughy rice noodles, pork, and fish sauce among other vegetables and herbs. I’m all for traditional foods in their element, but as I’m a bit of a veg-head I was a bit sad that I would have to pick through my spring roll to avoid the pork. Not to mention, unwrapping a homemade spring roll is somewhat of a crime in Southeast Asia, and I didn’t want to make the faux pas.

Yet, sometimes things tend to go my way when I travel. My luck would have it that I found a Vietnamese woman who sold spring rolls made purely of vegetables and herbs at my local night market, every single night. The grace of good luck didn’t help me discover this, however. It was instead my handy pocket dictionary and some crazy Pictionary skills that helped me to determine that I could eat this spring roll without picking it apart and humiliating myself. Jackpot!

These spring rolls are a little bit of Thailand and Vietnam, night markets and shaky translations, delicious almond butter dipping sauce, and the pure joy of cultural connections that create memories of a lifetime.

Veggie Spring Rolls with Almond Butter Dipping Sauce

Adapted from the Minimalist Baker

Spring rolls:

½ cup each julienned carrots, cucumbers, and bell peppers
1 avocado, cut into strips
1 bunch of fresh mint
1 bunch of fresh cilantro
1 bunch of radish sprouts
1 cup mixed greens
½ cup purple cabbage, shredded
8 rice paper rolls

Almond Butter Dipping Sauce:

1/3 cup creamy almond butter
1 T tamari or soy sauce
1 T rice wine vinegar
1-2 T sweetener (honey, agave)
1 T fresh lime juice
1 tsp garlic chili sauce
Hot water, to thin out sauce

Start with preparing the dipping sauce. Add all ingredients, except hot water, to a small bowl and whisk to combine. To thin sauce, begin adding tablespoons of hot water at a time, until sauce achieves the consistency you desire. Set aside.

To create spring rolls pour hot water into a shallow baking dish or plate. Dip rice paper into hot water for five seconds and transfer to a cutting board. On the bottom third of the rice paper wrapper, place mixed greens, sprouts, herbs, and other veggie ingredients. Gently fold rice paper roll over once and tuck in outer edges. Continue to gently roll as tightly as you can.

Once all spring rolls have been wrapped, cut in half (if desired) and serve with fresh almond butter dipping sauce. Enjoy!

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