A vegetarian twist on the Vietnamese spring rolls. These spring rolls are filled with roasted asparagus, Granny Smith apples, and fresh veggies. Refreshing and crunchy with a hint of spicy and sour, it’s perfect for a quick and healthy meal.
For this recipe, I decided to go back to my roots and make Vietnamese spring rolls with a slight twist. If you’re familiar with Vietnamese food, spring rolls dipped in a peanut/hoisin sauce often appear as appetizers. If you’ve ever ordered them at Vietnamese restaurants, you’ve probably noticed that it’s pretty pricy for two rolls. But spring rolls are cheap and easy to make as long as you have rice paper and hoisin sauce, both of which you can find at an Asian market.
I love spring rolls because they’re healthy and simple to make. It’s a very hands-on type of food. Unlike in restaurants, eating spring rolls at home usually means that you’re wrapping the spring rolls as you eat. They’re generally not prepared beforehand. You want them to be as fresh as possible because rice paper hardens after a period of time. So eating at home means wrapping them as you’re eating, which makes it all the more fun, don’t you think?
Traditionally, spring rolls consist of thinly sliced pork, shrimp, rice vermicelli, lettuce, and mint or basil wrapped in rice paper. In this particular recipe, instead of using pork, shrimp, and rice vermicelli, I chose to use roasted asparagus, which is perfect for vegetarians and adds an extra crunch.
First, prepare the hoisin sauce for dipping. You’ll need about a ¼ cup of hoisin sauce. I usually use this brand, but I think any brand would work. Add the hoisin sauce into a small pan.
Since the sauce from the jar is really thick and salty, you’ll need to dilute it with some water and add a little bit of sugar. At first, the sauce will appear watery, but as you stir over low heat, the sauce will start to thicken again. This process only takes a few minutes. Once the sauce starts to thicken, turn off the heat and set it aside to allow it to cool down a little while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
Preheat the oven to 350oF and line a baking sheet with foil.
Wash and prepare the vegetables.
Cut about a centimeter off the bottom of the asparagus stalks. This is because oftentimes, the bottom of the asparagus is tough and hard to chew.
Place the asparagus stalks onto the baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil over the asparagus. Sprinkle on crushed red pepper and a pinch of salt. Place the asparagus into the oven for about 15 minutes until the asparagus becomes soft and tender.
While the asparagus is roasting in the oven, cut the carrot, zucchini, and cucumber into thin slices.
Cut the apple into thin slices too. I know it sounds odd to put apple slices in spring rolls, but trust me, it’ll taste amazing. I recommend using Granny Smith apples because these apples have a hint of sour in them and will add extra flavor as well as texture.
Remove the asparagus from the oven and allow it to cool for a few minutes before slicing the stalks in half.
Now, it’s time for the wrapping.
To make it easier, place each ingredient onto separate plates. That way you can reach for them easily.
My favorite brand of rice paper is Three Ladies, which is pictured below.
Fill a large bowl with warm water. Dip rice paper individually into the warm water to soften it. Make sure to turn the circular rice paper so that all areas have been dipped in the water. Then place the rice paper onto a flat plate. Unfortunately, because the rice papers are clear colored, it’s hard to see them placed on the plate. My plate is about the size of the rice paper.
On one side, about an inch from the edge, start piling the vegetables. I placed the spring mix salad first. You can place as much as you want, but a few leaves should be fine since you’ll be adding more ingredients.
Add carrots, cucumbers, and zucchini.
Add slices of apples.
Add a few mint leaves.
Add 4 asparagus halves (2 stalks) of asparagus.
Take the edge of the rice paper and press it down over the vegetables, tightly rolling it towards the middle.
Take one end and fold it over to close the end. Do the same for the other side.
Roll the rest of the way to seal the spring roll.
Continue making the rest of the spring rolls using the same technique.
Plate the spring rolls with the hoisin sauce. You can serve the hoisin sauce as is or you can add crushed peanuts or chili pepper.
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