favorite fresh rolls

fresh rollsI have been attempting to up the percentage of fresh fruits and veggies that our family, but especially the kids, consume. Luke and I tend to eat a variety, but the kids tend to get sticky-stuck in their starchy rut. So the other night for dinner, I made what I thought were two of their favorites — cucumber arame salad and bok choy salad.

As it turns out, they both loved the arame salad as usual, but weren’t fans of the sprouted mung beans I put into the bok choy mix. They did eat a bowl each, as well as significant portions of the cuke-aame salad, so I’m not complaining.

Since I’ve also been brainstorming about good foods I can make ahead for days we’re on the road,  I wanted to test out fresh roll leftovers. With cheers ringing in my ears, I set out all the stuff to make the rolls. I made 12, thinking everyone could have 2, and we’d have some left for lunch the next day. However my little gobblers gobbled the entire batch up at dinner, so my leftover experiment will have to wait for another day. I was able to form another hypothesis tho — my kids will eat loads of veggies if they’re wrapped in a delicate rice wrapper! I’ll report back on the test results soon.

We get these at places like Pho Mai in Middletown or Pho Boston in the same plaza as the pungent wonderful Asian grocery store A Dong in West Hartford, off New Britain Ave. The first time I went there, I was transported back to Chinatown in Boston, thanks to the stunningly similar, er, aromatic ambience.

Usually the rolls have rice vermicelli, sliced fried tofu, thai basil and/or cilantro and maybe some lettuce. I had the noodles out on the counter, but spying the vibrant green sprouts in the playroom, I decided to swap starchy noodles for some buckwheat lettuce. I would like to try sunflower shoots next time but didn’t have any that were ready to cut yet.

Fresh Rolls with Hoisin Sauce

  • rice wrappers
  • avocado
  • tomato
  • shredded carrots
  • buckwheat lettuce
  • thai basil

I used a Hoisin Sauce recipe I found at high on health, but would tweak the recipe the next time using less tamari and more sweetener. And maybe molasses. I’d have to play with it and didn’t have time as everyone was sitting before I got to the sauce. The kids didn’t care for this really salty sauce, and ate them plain. I drizzled it over the bok choy salad and that was pretty good, but I ended up rinsing out the leftovers since it wasn’t a big hit.

The fresh rolls took me a few tries before I got the knack, but they end up being pretty easy to make. I had heard that you were supposed to dip the stuff, flat wrappers in a bowl until they softened, but when I did this, i ended up tearing them. What has worked best for me is to dip them or run them under water, and put them on my rolling surface (usually a plate) while very wet but still stiff. They soften as I add the veggies and by the time I’m done, I can wrap them up, much as I do a burrito — bottom up over the veggies, then each side, then roll up until the top flap is wrapped up.

These used to seem like such an effort for me, so I don’t make them very often. But this time, the sprouts took just a second to cut, the carrots just a minute to shred in the food processor, and once the avocado and tomato are sliced I was good to go.  I didn’t have any more cukes on hand, but we have also added julienned cucumber or really thin round slices (which look pretty if used as the bottom layer so that they end up pressed against the wrapper once it’s done), and finely shredded cabbage also brings a nice sweetness to the rolls. If you wanted to make them completely raw or didn’t have a chance to pick up rice wrappers, you can use the outer cabbage leaves, swish chard or collards. You can blanch the latter to make it more pliable.

Do you make fresh rolls? What do you put inside? And what do you use to dip them in?


  1. Sabrina says

    MMmmmm! We made a version of fresh rolls last night and they were loved! I served ours with a pad thai sauce. I also made brocolli marinated in a spicy asian inspired sauce and a sweet carrot salad. The fresh rolls are going to be a summer staple!

  2. Mae says

    Since giving up sandwiches (bread) these are my favorite thing to make and take for lunch on the road. These are so simple but so good and I always have these ingredients on hand. Rice wrapper, smear a thin layer of garlic hummus, baby spinach leaves and shredded carrots.

  3. sioux says

    MM, that sounds good, I tend to do those types of sandwiches in the brown rice tortillas, but I don’t always have them on hand. I’ll have to try them in rice wrappers! Thanks Mae