I don’t do juice diets or detox cleanses or anything like that.  If I feel the occasional need to get back on the straight and narrow I go for a much simpler solution, I eat summer rolls.  After just one bite I can feel my body getting back into balance.  They make me feel healthier, skinnier, completely recharged and more in tune with the Universe…and I didn’t have to guzzle any lemon juice and cayenne pepper to get there.  They qualify as vegan, gluten free, and raw, too, so even Gwyneth would approve.

I’m kicking off the season for these rolls with a simple rainbow carrot version.  It’s a reminder that you don’t need to get fancy with a lot of different ingredients, as long as you’ve got fresh, crisp, colorful veggies, they will be delicious.  I think the rolls themselves are all about texture, anyway, with the crunch of the vegetables and the chewy wrapper.  The real flavor resides in the dipping sauce.

Rainbow carrots are getting pretty common, I’m so glad to see that they even come in large bulk bags now, just like regular carrots. These carrots are heirloom varieties, not modern hybrids, and in fact the original carrots were purple and white, not orange.  These varieties are harvested early because on the whole they tend to get a more ‘woody’ core as they mature.  I don’t think they’re quite as sweet as orange carrots, but that doesn’t bother me, sweetness isn’t’ my first priority when it comes to vegetables.

Rainbow Carrots

 You’re going to want to cut thin, matchstick slices so that your rolls have a pleasant crunch and aren’t too difficult to bite into.  It’s harder to do that with slim, young carrots because they have more round surface per square inch.  Don’t worry about being perfect, just try to get the pieces as thin as possible.

You’ll need some kind of green for the bottom layer of your roll.  You can use sprouts, lettuce, spinach, or watercress, like I did.  Lay it out with the outer edge facing down, because that side will show through in the finished roll and you want it to be pretty.  Make a little pile of carrot sticks on top of the greens.


Wrapping the rolls seems tricky at first, but it’s really a matter of confidence.  If you waiver, the wrapper will sense your stress and will go all lopsided and loose. The wet rice paper seems delicate but it’s quite elastic and forgiving.  Just show it who’s boss.

Chop the finished rolls in half using a very sharp knife, and serve with a brightly flavored dipping sauce, and you’ve got yourself a delicious meal.

Rainbow Carrot Summer Rolls
assorted rainbow carrots
watercress leaves
8″ spring roll wrappers (find them in the Asian food section or online)

  • Peel and cut your carrots into very slim matchsticks, about 5″ long.
  • Put a few inches of warm water in a large shallow dish, like a pie plate.  Dip a spring roll wrapper into the water and let it soak for about 15 seconds.  Remove and lay it on a cutting board or other flat surface.  Arrange a few watercress leaves, right side down, in the center of the roll.  See photo above.
  • Pile on some carrot sticks, but not too many or it will be difficult to wrap up.  See diagram above.
  • Wrap the roll up, starting by folding in each side, then rolling up from the bottom.  Set aside and cover with a damp paper towel while you finish the rest of the rolls, being careful not to let them touch each other as they sit, or the wrappers will stick to each other.
  • Cut the rolls in half with a sharp knife and serve with Peanut Sauce on the side.

Spicy Peanut Sauce #2
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter (I used unsalted and unsweetened)
3/4 cup coconut milk
1 Tbsp chili sauce
1 tsp Thai fish sauce
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
juice of 1 lime
1/4 cup water
dash of sesame oil

  • Combine everything except the sesame oil in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer.  Simmer gently for a minute or two.  Add more water if the sauce seems too thick.  Taste it and adjust any of the ingredients to your liking.  Add the sesame oil after you take the sauce off the heat.

Notes:  I made summer rolls with a similar sauce in this post, so I dubbed this one #2. Because of the coconut milk this sauce will become very thick when it’s chilled.  Bring it to room temperature, or heat it briefly in the microwave to bring it back to liquid form before serving.

Here’s the thing about these rolls.  At first they seem really complicated and fussy, but it’s really easier than throwing together a salad.  The wrappers come in dried form and keep forever, so if you can get comfortable with the process, you can whip these up in a flash with whatever fresh vegetables you’ve got. And I find that once I accumulated the basic Asian condiments in my cupboard, (which also keep forever) I always have the makings for a great sauce.

Rainbow Carrot Rolls with Spicy Peanut Sauce

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20 Responses to Rainbow Carrot Summer Rolls with Spicy Peanut Sauce

  1. Katrina says:

    The spring rolls, themselves, may be gluten-free, but be careful with the sauce … it notes “soy sauce” which is FULL of gluten. A great alternative for that is GF tamari sauce, also found in the Asian foods section. Also, not entirely sure about the “fish sauce,” either.

  2. Momma Jo says:

    We are raw juicers. Busy on the run juice travels well. We are slowing down and the summer weather splendid (rare) rice paper wrapped meals will be on the menu. BTW Thanks for the tip on where to find the wrappers…one less stressful hunt.

  3. I don’t do detox or juice diets either, but I do like to break up my happy consumption of butter and chocolate with a healthy lunch from time to time. These lovely rolls look amazing. Those colours… like eating healthy sprinkles.

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  8. sophia says:

    So delicious. Is it good for Detox Matters?

  9. Unknown says:

    I’m half Asian & your recipe for peanut sauce is pretty authentic. Well done. Just so happens I bought rainbow carrots the other day!

  10. Unknown says:

    I’m half Asian & your recipe for peanut sauce is pretty authentic. Well done. Just so happens I bought rainbow carrots the other day!

  11. that is probably the most striking photo of carrots i have seen that isn’t in a magazine. for real. i love rainbow carrots also, and i’m with you; it never matters that they’re not as sweet as the orange variety. What a nice tutorial for summer rolls, also! I confess, i’ve never made them, although i have tons of experience in consuming them. :)
    ps: love the gwyneth mention.

  12. Magnolia Verandah says:

    Love the colours. Like the way you have left one end open. I try and wrap mine completely and they are never really successful.

  13. Kitchen Belleicious says:

    how colorful are these babies! Oh if I could sink my teeth into one of these rolls it would be magical! Such a great idea and recipe and I can see kids loving to help put these together!

  14. These are too pretty – almost too pretty to eat!

  15. belleau kitchen says:

    a riot of colour and flavour… talk about ‘taste the rainbow’… beautiful stuff. I do love those paper thin wraps too, fabulous with giant prawns in them… oh here I go again…

  16. Carol | a cup of mascarpone says:

    You create some of the most GORGEOUS fresh fruits and vegetable posts, Sue! These are amazing! I MUST try to find these carrots once our farmer’s market begins. They are beautiful! Your stunning photos show them off so well!

  17. Averie @ Averie Cooks says:

    This reminds me of a post I did a few yrs ago with some gorgeous farmer’s market produce and spring rolls and peanut sauce. Except I thought clean Tupperware meant food styling :)

    Seriously, gorgeous, Sue. I want to eat it up! Love the spicy peanut sauce, too!

  18. these not only look beautiful they sound absolutely delicious. i’m making these for sure.

  19. Tricia Buice says:

    Be still my heart – I want to make these so badly! The peanut butter sauce sounds amazing too. Beautiful!

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