Summer finally arrived in Stockholm last week with a long-awaited burst of heat and gloriously long days.
I love this time of year for any excuse to be outside. Over the weekend the water-front park just out our back door was peppered with picnic blankets and boxed wine. The warm air was thick with smoke wafting from single-use barbecues, and punctuated with music from a 5-piece band – tuba, cello, and all – that had camped out under a tree to play the evening away. Our neighbourhood really puts on a show sometimes.
I met a friend for some Saturday afternoon drinks in the park and learned that, unsurprisingly, trying to have a drinks picnic with a highly active one-year-old in tow isn’t the most relaxing. Still fun, though, and once we admitted defeat and took to surreptitiously sipping our rosé in the kiddie park instead, we all had a grand old time.
I packed these salad rolls along, and their fresh crunch was a welcome departure from the usual grab-and-go picnic fare. Here’s what I love about these: they’re filled with the brightest, freshest flavours of the season, from ribbons of carrot to paper thin radishes, fresh herbs, and whispers of spring onion. They’ve got a good amount of protein from baked tofu, and I’ve mixed things up with black bean noodles in half (more protein! more fiber!) and classic rice noodles in the other half. I also used crunchy romain lettuce to bump up the greens, which isn’t pictured above but I assure you is in the finished salad rolls.
But best of all, they’re a blank canvas. You can switch up the veggies according to what’s in season or what you’ve got on hand. Heck, you can even add fruit if you want. If you want lighter rolls, skip the noodles and pack in extra veg. Not a fan of tofu? Try tempeh or edamame instead. Got meat-eaters in the bunch? Get prawns or chicken up in there.
And let’s not forget the sauce – a zippy almond-ginger-chile concoction that can be dunked in, drizzled on, or just straight up spooned into your mouth. It’s pretty similar to the sauce in these Spicy Black Bean Noodle Bowls, so if you’re more into the idea of sesame than almond, then give that a go instead.
If these look like they’d be too much work for you, I suggest you divide and conquer. I did all of the prep work the night before – shredding and julienning the veg, baking the tofu, and cooking the noodles – so when it came time to roll it was simply a matter of creating an assembly station and getting started up. I managed to roll up a dozen or so AND get these photos taken while my one-year-old napped.
These are also a great excuse for team work, and why not make a party of it. I’m of the opinion that sharing the work of making food makes it taste even better, so why not put out a platter of summer salad roll ingredients, some chilled wine, and let everyone make their own. It’s a guaranteed recipe for a good time.
There’s so much goodness in here it’s hard to know where to start! Fresh summer veggies are loaded with flavour, crunch, vitamins, dietary fiber, and antioxidants. The black bean noodles, if you choose, are packed with dietary fiber and protein. Tofu brings protein and calcium to the table. And the almond sauce offers up more protein, calcium, and vitamin E. Lots of great stuff in a humble little salad roll!
Two years ago: Egg Salad with Celery and Dill
Three years ago: Nouveau Niçoise
Four years ago: Chocolate Banana Bread Smoothie
Five years ago: Stewed Rhubarb with Vanilla Bean
Six years ago: Rhubarb Muffins
summer salad rolls
- 1 x 500g block firm tofu
- 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
- salt and pepper
- 200 g uncooked rice noodles black bean noodles, or a combination.
- 2-3 large carrots shredded or julienned
- 1 large red pepper sliced into thin strips
- half a long English cucumber sliced into strips
- 6-8 radishes sliced paper thin
- 2 spring onions sliced lengthwise and then into sticks
- 1 head romaine lettuce washed and torn into pieces
- 1 bunch cilantro washed and roughly chopped
- 1 bunch fresh mint leaves torn from the stems
- 12-16 rice paper wrappers
- 3 Tbsp almond butter
- 2 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
- 3½ Tbsp liquid aminos I use Braggs or light soy sauce
- 2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 1 Tbsp brown sugar
- 1 Tbsp finely grated ginger
- 1 medium clove garlic crushed or minced
- sambal oelek chili paste to taste
Prepare the tofu:
Preheat oven to 200°C / 400°F, and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
Drain the tofu and pat dry, then cut into pencil thick slabs and arrange in a single layer on the prepared baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil, toasted sesame oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Turn over to ensure both sides are evenly coated.
Bake for 15 minutes, then remove from the oven and carefully turn. Bake for another 10-15 minutes, until the tofu is golden and crisp.
Remove from the oven, and set aside to cool.
Once cooled, slice into pencil-thick (about 1cm) sticks.
Prepare the vegetables:
While the tofu is baking, prepare the vegetables. Shred the carrot using a julienne peeler or mandoline, or a very sharp knife. Cut the other vegetables into similar sizes, and as thinly as possible.
Prepare the noodles according to package directions. Once softened rinse under cold water and drain well. Add a splash of sesame oil to prevent them from sticking to one another.
To make the sauce:
In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together sesame oil, almond butter, liquid aminos, rice vinegar, brown sugar, ginger, crushed garlic. Add a bit of sambal oelek or other chili paste if using, to taste.
Get ready to roll:
Create and assembly station with a large dish of cold water for soaking the rice papers, something to assemble on (a cutting board does nicely), lettuce, veggies, tofu, and fresh herbs.
Submerge a rice paper wrapper into the cold water and count to five. Then remove from the water, shake it off a bit, and set on the cutting board. It may seem too stiff, but it will continue to absorb water as you work, and soaking for longer will only mean too delicate a wrapper that will tear easily.
Place a few pieces of lettuce, followed by tofu, a few pieces of each kind of vegetable, and a small handful of noodles. Top the noodles with some fresh herbs, then get ready to roll.
Carefully lift one side of the rice paper over the filling, and then use your fingers to pull the filling back towards you a bit. Fold the ends in, and continue to roll until everything is sealed in.
Repeat until you've run out of filling!
Serve with almond-ginger sauce.
Recipe Notes-Practice makes perfect! Your first roll may not look great, but I bet your last one will. Just keep trying! And remember, that looks aren't important here. As long as they hold together reasonably well, you're in business.
-Salad rolls are best served the same day they're made, but they can be made a day ahead if needed. Line a large container with parchment so they don't stick, and put a very slightly damp paper towel over the top to keep the rice paper from drying out.
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