Rainbow Carrot Summer Rolls with Spicy Peanut Sauce ~ 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.
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.
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.
- assorted rainbow carrots
- watercress leaves
- 9" spring roll wrappers (find them in the Asian food section or online)
- 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
- 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.
- To make the sauce, 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.
- 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.