My now-husband asked me out for spring rolls and beer for our first date. I vividly remember walking into the nearby Thai restaurant to meet him. Our waitress had to come back three times to get our order, since we could not be bothered to look at the menu.
We were too busy connecting over our love for our dogs (we each have one), coming from families of three kids (I’m the oldest; he’s the youngest), our shared love of food and travel, a million other little things…
He finally ordered us a double batch of his favorite spring rolls. I was too nervous and full from a day of recipe testing to eat much. The waitress kicked us out because the restaurant was closing. I came home and danced around in the living room with Cookie. He asked me out again.
A couple of months later, I confessed that I didn’t share his level of appreciation for those spring rolls. “Too much noodles, not enough veggies. The carrots taste like chlorine. The peanut sauce could be more bold.” He dared me to come up with something better, and I finally have.
These are the fresh, veggie-packed spring rolls I want to order at Thai and Vietnamese restaurants. I can’t say they’re 100 percent authentic, but they’re pretty close.
Of course, I came up with an irresistible peanut dipping sauce to go with them. Invite some friends over and make it a spring roll party! Ready for the recipe?
Fresh Spring Roll Ingredients
These spring rolls are refreshing, colorful and fun to make. I left out tofu (you really can’t pack enough into the rolls to make it worthwhile) and shrimp, since I don’t eat shrimp.
These filling ingredients are flexible. You can use more carrot instead of cucumber, or extra cabbage in place of the lettuce. Here’s my favorite filling combination:
- Thin rice noodles
- Butter lettuce
- Red cabbage (or green cabbage)
- Jalapeño (skip if you’re very sensitive to spice)
- Green onion, cilantro and mint
You’ll need basic pantry ingredients to make the peanut sauce: peanut butter, rice vinegar, tamari or soy sauce, honey or maple syrup, toasted sesame oil and fresh garlic.
How to Wrap Spring Rolls
Spring rolls can seem intimidating, but you’ll get the hang of it quickly, I promise. If you have folded a burrito before, you can definitely make spring rolls! Don’t stress if your spring rolls aren’t totally perfect. A few tips:
1) Make the base
Read more: How to Make Au Jus | Family Cuisine
Start by placing a few pieces of lettuce about one-third from the bottom of the circular wrapper. The width of your fillings will determine the width of the spring roll. You want to leave a couple inches open on the two sides for wrapping purposes.
2) Pile on the ingredients
Then, add the remaining ingredients. The exact order doesn’t matter much. Just pile them on top, making sure to take up the proper width. It’s ok if the fillings spill upward. I try to leave the top one-third of the wrapper open for wrapping.
3) Roll the filling
Gently pull the bottom of the wrapper up and over the lower portion of the filling. Try to keep the fillings compact as you roll upwards, just until the fillings are enveloped.
4) Envelope the sides and roll it up
Pull each side over to enclose the filling. Continue wrapping upward until your spring roll is fully wrapped!
Watch How to Make Spring Rolls
Please let me know how your spring rolls turn out in the comments. I hope they’re a big hit.
Craving more peanut sauce? Me, too. You’re going to love these:
- Crunchy Thai Peanut & Quinoa Salad
- Peanut Slaw with Soba Noodles
- Mango “Burrito” Bowls with Crispy Tofu and Peanut Sauce or Cabbage Wraps
- Peanut Dipping Sauce
You’ll also enjoy the fresh sesame soba spring rolls in my cookbook, Love Real Food (page 98).