This is one of my favourite appetizers to take to parties. This recipe is plant based, but you could add chopped cooked shrimp or even cooked ground turkey or pork for the meat eaters in the crowd. Feel free to add chopped peanuts as well.
one small package thin rice noodles
1½ tablespoons rice vinegar
salt to taste
2 large butter-lettuce leaves, washed well and spun dry
8 eight-inch rounds of rice paper (plus extras in case some tear)
1 scallion, cut into julienne strips
¼ cup finely shredded carrot
⅓ cup sliced cabbage
¼ cup fresh basil leaves, whole
¼ cup fresh mint leaves, whole
¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves, whole
Thai Almond Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
In a bowl, cover noodles with very hot water and soak for 15 minutes; drain well in a colander. Reserve half of the noodles for another use. With scissors, cut remaining noodles into three- to four-inch lengths. In a small bowl, toss noodles with rice vinegar and salt to taste.
Cut out and discard ribs from lettuce leaves, halving each leaf.
In a shallow baking pan or cake pan, cover two rounds of rice paper with hot water and soak until very pliable, 45 seconds to 1 minute.
Carefully spread one soaked round on a paper towel and blot with another paper towel, leaving remaining round in water. Arrange one piece of lettuce leaf on bottom half of the round, leaving a one-inch border along edge. Top lettuce with one fourth of the noodles, arranging them in a line across lettuce. Top noodles with one fourth each of scallion, carrot, cabbage and herbs. Roll up tightly, folding in ends after first roll to completely enclose filling.
Spread the remaining soaked rice paper round on paper towel and blot. Place the already wrapped spring roll on the rice paper and wrap it in the second round in the same manner. (Double wrapping covers any tears and makes roll more stable and easier to eat.) Wet a paper towel and squeeze out excess water. Wrap spring roll in this paper towel and put in a resealable plastic bag.
Make three more rolls with remaining ingredients in the same manner.
Rolls may be made one day ahead and chilled, wrapped in wet paper towels in a sealed plastic bag. Before serving, bring rolls to room temperature. Discard paper towels. Halve rolls diagonally and serve with Thai Almond Vinaigrette.
Thai Almond Vinaigrette
1½ tablespoons unsalted, natural almond butter (or sunflower seed butter or peanut butter)
1½ tablespoons fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon coconut aminos
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon minced garlic
one-inch piece of ginger, peeled
¼ teaspoon sea salt
¾ cup melted cold-pressed, organic coconut oil
Place all the ingredients except the oil in a blender or small food processor and blend until smooth. Note: The vessel of the blender or food processor needs to be small for the dressing to emulsify and not spread up the walls of the jar.
Heat the coconut oil until melted fully (it will look clear). With the blender on low, slowly drizzle in the oil in a steady stream The key is to add the oil slowly. Continue blending until emulsified.
If making by hand, mince the cilantro, garlic and ginger ahead of time. Whisk together all of the ingredients except the oil and then whisk vigorously as you slowly drizzle in the oil.
This dressing will harden when refrigerated, so gently warm over very low heat until it is pourable again.
Kellie Timmins is an experienced wellness professional trained in diet, lifestyle and wellness coaching and a yoga teacher. She graduated as a certified health coach from The Institute for Integrative Nutrition and holds an additional certification from The American Association of Drugless Practitioners.