Vietnamese summer rolls are one of the most refreshing foods on the planet, and they get bonus points for fitting in to just about any diet you’re on, from low carb and gluten free, to vegan, Paleo, Whole 30, Noom, and Weight Watchers!
summer rolls are like a cool breeze on a hot day
This meal is ideal for those days when you don’t even feel like eating, much less cooking…the idea comes from Southeast Asia where they know a little bit about hot humid weather. Their food is famous for being fresh and clean, with very little gluten, dairy, oil, or sugar. The focus is on fresh vegetables, herbs, and spices, and it’s a beautiful way to eat.
what are summer rolls? (aka G?i cu?n, Vietnamese spring roll, or rice paper roll)
Summer rolls consist of finely julienned veggies (also greens, herbs, and sometimes seafood) wrapped up tightly in a thin rice paper wrapper. They’re raw, and serve chilled, usually with some sort of dipping sauce. The stretchy wrappers are translucent, and make a stunning dish. The contrast of the chewy wrappers with the crisp filling is so good.
what you’ll need
Think summer rolls outside of your comfort zone? They’re jus super refreshing salad wraps, and don’t worry, they’re not filled with exotic or hard to find ingredients ~ any fresh crunchy salad veggies will work. Today I’ve used
- carrots, both regular and rainbow variety
- cilantro and basil
- you can also use zucchini, firm avocado, bell peppers, green onions, beets, snap peas, lettuce, spinach, and kale
You’ll also need rice paper wrappers
if you’re lucky your local supermarket will stock them, right in the same place you find other Asian foods like soy sauce and ramen noodles. These round wrappers come in dried, flat circular disks. You can always buy them on Amazon, here, and because they last forever, I’d recommend stocking up on several packages so you’ll have them on hand. Once you start making summer rolls you’ll never want to be without them.
let’s make it!
The translucent wrappers look delicate, but are surprisingly elastic and sturdy, so you don’t have to have any special skills to make these rainbow summer rolls. If you can roll a burrito or make a sandwich wrap, you’ve got this!
- First slice your vegetables into fine matchsticks. The leafy greens and sprouts will lend a delicate crunch to balance out the harder raw vegetables.
- Working one at a time, dip your rice paper wrapper briefly in a pan of cool water for about 15 seconds, just until they become pliable.
- Arrange your herbs and veggies in a pile in the center.
- Wrap everything up tightly, burrito style, and slice in half with a sharp knife.
- I’ll show you just how easy it is in the video below.
don’t forget the dip!
The dip is super important and provides some wonderful flavor to every bite. You can go light and cool, or spicy. I’ve done a Spicy Peanut Sauce which makes a great contrast to the rolls, but today I’m going with an uber simple coconut milk and lime mixture. Dunk, crunch, dunk, crunch…once you get a rhythm going it’s hard to stop.
tips and faqs for summer rolls
Spring rolls are wrapped in a flour dough wrapper and fried. Summer rolls are wrapped in a rice paper wrapper and served raw.
Look for them in the Asian markets, or the international section of your supermarket, they’re sold on the shelves, not in the refrigerated section. You can always order them online, here.
No, they’re completely different and won’t work for summer rolls.
Summer rolls are best enjoyed immediately, because the wrappers will dry out. You can make them up to a few hours ahead if you refrigerate them covered in a damp towel, and then in plastic.
They’re extremely healthy, not to mention low in calories. They’re a great way to get more veggies into your diet.
more healthy appetizers
- Green Goddess Veggie Dip Cups
- Lemon Artichoke Hummus
- Muhammara (roasted red pepper & walnut dip)
- Crudité is the new charcuterie!
- Whipped Basil Ricotta with Spring Crudité
Rainbow Summer Rolls
- 10 9-inch rice paper spring roll wrappers find them here
- 3 rainbow carrots of assorted colors
- 1 orange carrot
- 1 watermelon radish
- 1/2 jicama
- 2 Persian cucumbers
- 1 1/2 cups sprouts, any type
- handful cilantro or basil leaves
- 1/2 cup coconut milk
- juice of 1-2 limes
- Peel and cut your carrots, radish, jicama, and cucumbers into very thin matchsticks, about 5 inches long, or as close as you can get to that. Don’t stress too much about the length. Keep them under a wet kitchen towel so they won’t dry out as you work. If you plan to chop your veggies ahead of time, make sure they are well wrapped and kept damp.
- Pour a little cool water into a large pie plate or other dish that is large enough to fit the spring roll wrappers. Work one at a time and immerse a wrapper into the water for about 15 seconds, just until it starts to soften.
- Lay the wrapper on a flat surface and arrange a few of the cilantro or basil leaves, face down, onto the center of the wrap. Pile the cut veggies on top of the herbs. Bring the edge of the wrap up and over the pile of veggies, folding in each side as you go, just like you would wrap a burrito or flatbread sandwich wrap. Slice in half with a very sharp knife before serving. Place the rolls under a damp paper towel while you make the others, to keep them moist.
- To make the sauce whisk the coconut milk together with the lime juice, adding the lime juice to your taste. If you are making it ahead, the coconut milk will solidify in the refrigerator, so bring it to room temperature before serving.
notes and variations
- Experiment with different types of sauces, or serve a selection for people to sample.
- Summer rolls can be filled with lots of different kinds of things, including fruit! Consider cutting matchstick pieces of apple, pear, or mango, and serving with a sweetened sauce for a snack or dessert roll. The rice paper wrapper has no flavor of its own, so it can go sweet or savory.
- Try my Chicken Salad Summer Rolls for something completely different!