Spinach and Basil Summer Rolls

Yesterday’s farmers market had some beautiful Chinese spinach, a large leafy green with purple veins that was too pretty to pass up.   I got an instant craving for crunchy green summer rolls, so I picked up the neighboring basil and a bunch of long super thin spring onions.  A handful of crunchy sunflower sprouts and my straw market bag was stuffed for only a few dollars.

Chinese Spinach

One thing to remember about greens from farmers markets, or local gardens, is that they’re much more delicate than your standard supermarket varieties that are bred to travel well and last longer after cutting.  Garden fresh greens and sprouts have amazing flavor but need to kept chilled and used fairly soon after purchase.  Even the ride home from the market can be fatal to delicate greens if you’re not careful.  If you’re going to be making stops, bring along a cooler with an ice pack.

Spinach and basil summer rolls-5

The spring roll wrappers are made with rice flour, and you can usually find them in the Asian section of your supermarket.  They are dried, and come in a large flat box or cellophane package.  They are thin and brittle when dry, and become very soft and pliable after a quick soak in water.  You’ll find the bean thread, or glass noodles, in that same section.  Both are gluten free.

summer roll wrappers

Rolling summer rolls is not hard.  Working with one at a time, you soak the brittle rice paper wrappers in water for 15 seconds, and then lay out your counter.  Pile your filling in the center, and then fold up from the bottom, folding in the two sides, and then continue rolling into a tight log, like a cigar.  Keep them under a damp paper towel while you work so the finished rolls will stay moist.

wrapping Vietnamese summer rollswrapping summer rollswrapping summer rolls wrapping summer rolls 3

Slice in half with a sharp knife and you’re ready to eat.  The wrapper is more forgiving than you might think, and since it is sticky from the rice starch, it will stay together no matter how you wrap it.

summer rolls with greens and glass noodles

There is something irresistibly fresh and clean tasting about summer rolls.  I am addicted to the combination of the crunchy vegetables inside and the chewy rice wrapping.  Dip them into a vibrant sauce and it’s just about the best thing you can imagine.  I usually make simple dipping sauces for these rolls.  Today it is a combination of coconut milk, lime, and lemongrass.  Zippy and fresh.

Spinach and Basil Summer Rolls

Yield: 8 summer rolls

Spinach and Basil Summer Rolls


  • 1 bunch Chinese spinach (or regular spinach) washed and dried
  • 1 bunch basil leaves, washed and dried
  • 1 handful sunflower or pea sprouts
  • 8 very thin spring onions, trimmed
  • about 2 oz dried bean thread noodles, soaked and drained according to the package directions
  • 8 spring roll wrappers (you can find them online here)
    coconut lemongrass dip
  • 1/2 cup full fat coconut milk
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 stalk lemongrass (or 2 tsp bottled minced lemongrass)


  1. Set out a plate or wide shallow pie pan and add about 1/4 inch of water.
  2. Pluck the best leaves off of the spinach and basil stems and set aside.
  3. Cut the spring onions to a length of about 5 inches, so they will fit in the rolls. If they are not super slender, slice them lengthwise into strips.
  4. Working one at a time, soak a wrapper in the water for 15 seconds. Put it down on a flat surface such as your counter-top and arrange the veggies and rice noodles in the center of the wrapper. Lay the largest leaves down first, then the bean threads, and the spring onions and sprouts.
  5. Bring the bottom of the wrapper up over the filling, and fold in both sides as well. Continue to roll it up tightly, like a cigar.
  6. Slice each roll in half with a sharp knife. Keep the finished rolls under a damp paper towel while you make the rest.
  7. Serve with coconut lemongrass dip.
  8. To make the dip, trim the long stalk from the lemongrass and peel away the tough outer layers. Mince the soft inner core, there will only be about an inch or two to mince. Mix the coconut milk, lime and lemongrass together. Serve cold.


Don' t try to make these too far ahead of time, the rice wrappers will dry out.


Fresh and healthy Vietnamese summer rolls

Talk about a 30-minute meal, this is lightening fast.  Lay them out on a tray, or stand one or two up in little individual glasses like I did.

Fresh and healthy summer rolls


More summer rolls —

Spicy Asian Slaw Summer Rolls

asian slaw summer rolls

Shrimp and Mint Summer Rolls

shrimp and mint summer rolls

Rainbow Carrot Summer Rolls

rainbow carrot summer rolls

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19 Responses to Spinach and Basil Summer Rolls

  1. Chicory App says:

    Yum! Perfect for summer.
    We love what you’re cooking up here. Are you interested in becoming a Chicory Recipe Partner?

  2. I just love making summer rolls and they’re perfect to have on hand especially if you’re on the go. I like the variations that you show and how pretty your purple basil looks through the rice paper. Great post.

  3. nice photography and these rolls look divine

  4. grace says:

    these are just plain stunning. i didn’t know those kits existed but i would appreciate their help very much since i’ve never spring-rolled before. :)

  5. Monica says:

    Looks so beautiful! I was just admiring the vegetable rolls at Whole Foods yesterday…they looked something like this. I’m sure yours are way tastier – they sure look amazing. It’s perfect for the summer season.

  6. Those spring rolls look fantastic. They are such a healthy and nutrious meal. Your photos are gorgeous.

  7. These summer rolls look amazingly fresh and delicious!

  8. Eileen says:

    Wow, that is certainly some beautiful spinach! Going to have to look out for it at our farmer’s market. These rolls sound so fresh and crispy — yay!

  9. I love summer rolls, these are just gorgeous with the spinach and basil – perfect for a hot day!

  10. Those look amazing, as always Sue! You’re photos never cease to wow me!

  11. Susan says:

    Spring rolls are the best! The Chinese lettuce you found are beautiful vessels for your spring rolls. I’d love to try them all, they look so delicious.

  12. Penny says:

    I am blown away Sue.

  13. These are fantastically beautiful Sue and I can only image how delicious and refreshing they would be on a hot day!

  14. Susan says:

    Oh, Sue! What a wonderful spring roll! Your presentation is so lovely too! I’m curious about the coconut lemongrass dipping sauce too! A terrific post!

  15. Love these and that purple spinach is so pretty! Summer rolls are one of my favourite summer treats, so I’m inspired with some new ideas now :) Pinned!

  16. I’ve always admired your summer rolls. They look so beautiful and tempting. Why haven’t I made these yet? You must have an amazing farmers market – you always find the most beautiful produce. Lovely Sue – and the photos are absolutely perfect!!! Zippy, fresh and clean – I’m in!

    • Sue says:

      Thanks Tricia – you would love summer rolls, they are such fun to eat, and you feel like you’ve ingested about zero calories!

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