Taking the full measure of life

Fresh spring rolls for dinner

October 24th, 2007 · 9 Comments

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In this world without gluten (wheat, barley, rye, etc.), eggs, cow dairy, soy, tomatoes, almonds, and other assorted foods, it sometimes feels like a miracle to find something I can still eat without modification. So I was really thrilled when my husband handed me a package of regular old rice paper wrappers in the store and declared them Sally-friendly. I realized I could make delicious fresh spring rolls (also known as summer rolls) in my kitchen at home. Three great blog posts (one at Book of Yum, one at Gluten-Free Bay, and one at Gluten Free Gobsmacked) convinced me that I, too, could be successful at making fresh spring rolls at home. Last night, I proceeded to go a little crazy.


An hour or so after I started, when I was finished chopping and food-processing and frying, this was the array of fillings surrounding me:

organic maple bacon
peeled and sliced Granny Smith apples
minced crystallized ginger
shredded Asian cabbage
shredded cucumber
shredded carrots
matchstick zucchini
matchstick yellow squash
boiled shrimp
mint leaves
cilantro leaves
basil leaves
chopped green onion
chopped mango
boiled rice noodles (from two packs of ramen–I just didn’t add the oil and seasoning)
toasted cashews

In addition to the fillings, I had purchased three gluten-free, soy-free, etc. sauces:  a Thai peanut sauce, an Asian raspberry sauce, and a Thai sweet chili sauce.  Yum.  (The sauce makes the meal, you know.)

Keep in mind, I was only cooking for two people–two people! I realized we had to call in reinforcements, so we invited my best friend and her husband over to eat at the last minute.

To prepare a summer roll, I dunked the piece of rice paper into bathwater-hot water that was in a wide, shallow bowl. The rice paper needed to be immersed without bending, I quickly learned. As a piece started to soften (8-15 seconds later), I picked it out while it was still somewhat firm and laid it on a clean dishtowel—the paper can stick to other surfaces. I decided which fillings I wanted to add to it and sprinkled them in a line approximately in the center of the roll. (When I started out, I was putting too much filling in, and the rolls couldn’t close up tightly at all, but I got the hang of it over time.) After sprinkling on fillings, I flipped down the top and bottom edges and carefully rolled up the roll to close. Then I set it on a piece of waxed paper on a cookie sheet. I am not the most graceful person in the world, but with a light hand, it really wasn’t hard to do.

When I added herbs to the rolls, I put the herbs in a separate line, facing the outside of the wrapper, so that when I rolled the wrapper up, the herbs sat outside the main filling mix. Look at the other blogs I mentioned for more in-depth explanations.

I think these were the overall favorite filling combinations:

maple bacon (I’d chop it into small pieces next time), apples, cabbage, and crystallized ginger
shrimp, mango, noodles, carrots, cucumber, cashews, mint, and basil
carrots, noodles, zucchini, crystallized ginger, and cashews

Though the others gobbled them up, I wasn’t a huge fan of the shrimp rolls. The consistency of the soft, sticky rolls with the soft, slightly squishy shrimp–it just didn’t work for me. But I loved the others.

We ate them all.

Next time I make them, I’m pondering how to fill them with entirely seasonal fall foods.  Any suggested combinations?

Tags: allergen-free recipes

9 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Kate // Oct 24, 2007 at 11:12 am

    Thanks for the link back.
    That apple & bacon combo looks DELICIOUS!

    ¡Anda! ¡Qué inspiración! I can’t wait to try these.


  • 2 Kate // Oct 24, 2007 at 11:13 am

    By the way – that is a FANTASTIC photo!

  • 3 kristen // Oct 25, 2007 at 6:02 am

    those sound really good. i’ll have to give it a try. what brand were the rice wrappers?

  • 4 Robyn // Oct 25, 2007 at 3:38 pm

    I just have to say something about your comment to me…it absolutely does NOT belittle what I’m going through – in fact I really appreciate when people tell me things like that because it just reaffirms that I really have nothing to worry about. I’ve heard story after story of the same thing from other people – so trust me, I didn’t take your comment any way other than reassurance that everything will be fine 🙂 Thank you!!
    And as for the spring rolls? umm….YUM!

  • 5 Robyn // Oct 25, 2007 at 3:47 pm

    also – what about certain kinds of cooked squash? butternut or acorn would be yummy…with leeks or some kind of onion? maybe caramelized onion? mushrooms like portabello, maybe even marinated…or artichokes? What about cooked sugar snap peas? I don’t know..I could be completely off my rocker – just suggesting..hehehe

  • 6 sally // Oct 25, 2007 at 6:34 pm

    Thanks, Kate.

    Kristen, they are Banh Trang brand . . . I think. “Banh trang” just means rice paper, though it does look like that’s the brand. . . . They have rice and tapioca starch, but no gluten.

    Robyn, I’m glad you found my comment comforting. I swear I have told my husband that if we have a biological child someday, I will not have those tests done because of how many friends have gotten freaked out unnecessarily. Thanks for the food suggestions, too! I’m still thinking. 😀

  • 7 Les // Oct 26, 2007 at 5:54 am

    Ever since trying the watermelon salad, I’ve been crazy about the red onions soaked in lime juice. That would be a nice little POP in one of these, eh? Maybe combined with the bacon and some other filling ingredients. Sheesh! It’s 9am, and now I’m salivating for spring rolls! 😉

  • 8 K Renee // Oct 26, 2007 at 6:44 pm

    Dang! Those look good.

    And what a lovely avatar pic! (I need to see more of the hair to make a proper comparison, tho! LOL!)

  • 9 Ellen // Oct 27, 2007 at 4:35 pm

    These look fantastic! They are a staple in our gluten free house. Fun and easy to make especially with friends!

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