Happy 2016! Just a few weeks ago, The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020 were released. Surprise, surprise – the first “Key Recommendation” is to “Eat a variety of vegetables from all the subgroups – dark green, red and orange, legumes (beans and peas), starchy and other.” So with the (not-so-new) recommendations coupled with our personal “clean eating” resolutions, my giving you yet another vehicle for consuming more vegetables in the new year seemed a no-brainer.
This month’s Recipe Redux challenge is to “Pick a new ingredient that you’ve been wanting to try and show us how you’re cooking with something new (to you!) in 2016.” I’ve eaten plenty of spring rolls in my life, but have never made them myself. I wasn’t even sure where to find the wrappers in the grocery store. (My keen intuition, however, drove me straight to the “Asian foods” aisle because, duh.)
The package reads: “Delicious eaten fresh or deep fried.” Your nutritionist says: “Don’t do that” – fry them, that is. Instead of adding all that grease, save the (healthy) fat for the dipping sauce which features natural peanut butter. If you’d like a little more healthy, monounsaturated fat and the mouthfeel that fat provides, add strips of avocado to the vegetable filling.
Granted, julienning all these vegetables takes a bit of time. There are plenty of devices that can help speed up this task, but I chose the old-fashioned method of using a cutting board and a sharp knife. You know how I feel about sharp knives, right? If not, check out Michael Ruhlman’s explanation here: The Importance of Sharp Knives. My stance is: “what he said.”
Any vegetable you can julienne, or cut into strips, you can add to these rolls. You can also add some protein in the form of cooked chicken, cooked shrimp or tofu. I added the Enoki mushrooms not for any major nutritional boost or flavor but because they’re commonly used in East Asian cuisine. If you hate cilantro (I know who you are) substitute fresh parsley or even fresh basil. You also don’t need to use as many different vegetables as I used. The New Year is all about purging, cleaning up and cleaning out. Do this to your fridge – use whatever you have.
The real “Redux” of this post was the Spicy Thai Peanut Sauce. I found several versions that called for more than twice the amount of sugar I used and full fat coconut milk. Significantly reducing the sugar, using light coconut milk, adding curry powder, low sodium soy sauce and Samba Oelek chili sauce reduced the fat and calories without sacrificing any flavor at all. I could almost bathe in this sauce. It’s that good. Veggie Spring Rolls with Spicy Thai Peanut Sauce is an interesting twist on a veggie tray with hummus or dip, and makes a healthy and unique party platter for your upcoming Super Bowl or Oscar party!
For more healthy recipes using new or different ingredients, be sure to check out the recipes from my fellow Redux RDNs below.
- 12 - 16 Spring roll wrappers
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded and julienned
- 1 orange bell pepper, seeded and julienned
- 1 small/medium yellow squash, julienned
- 1 small/medium zucchini, julienned
- 2 cups shredded carrots
- 1 package Enoki mushrooms
- 2 cups cilantro, stems removed
- 3/4 cup natural peanut butter
- 1(13.5 ounce) can light, unsweetened coconut milk
- 1-2 tablespoons ground fresh chili paste (such as Sambal Oelek)
- 1 tablespoon curry powder
- 1-2 garlic cloves, minced (Note: if using Sambal Oelek with garlic, the cloves can be omitted)
- 1/3 cup sugar (granulated white or organic coconut palm sugar)
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce or Tamari
- 1/2 cup water
- (Note: to use sauce as a dressing, add another 1/2 cup water to thin)
- Prepare vegetables.
- Thoroughly wet a tee towel or clean (new) Handi-wipe, wring out, and place on counter or cutting board.
- One at a time, place each spring roll wrapper in a shallow dish of warm water. Wait 15-20 seconds or until pliable, remove from water and carefully spread onto prepared towel. Put the next spring roll into the water to soak while filling the first.
- Place a few strips of each vegetable onto the spring roll, leaving a 1- inch border on each side. Begin rolling on one side, tightening the roll as you go. Half way up, fold sides in, then continue to end.
- Put all peanut sauce ingredients into a medium pan over medium heat and stir until thoroughly combined. Bring to a boil, whisking constantly.
- Let mixture simmer 3-5 minutes over medium-low heat, taking care not to allow the bottom to scorch.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool.
- Serve as a dipping sauce for Veggie or Chicken Spring rolls.