This vegetarian summer rolls recipe usurps the traditional Vietnamese fillings for rice paper rolls by opting for colorful and crunchy vegetables in place of vermicelli noodles, pork, and shrimp. They’re crazy good. And crazy good for you.
Despite their name, these vegetarian summer rolls with dipping sauce are so lovely we can see ourselves eating them all year long. Although the notion of a veggie-laden summer roll may be unconventional compared to traditional authentic Vietnamese summer rolls, they sneakily entice your loved ones to eat their veggies. And you can bet we’re gonna embrace anything that manages to do that. Follow the recipe as is or go crazy and creative with as many different types of colorful and crunchy veggies as you can find.–Angie Zoobkoff
WHAT OTHER VEGETABLES CAN I USE IN MY VEGETARIAN SUMMER ROLLS?
Since we’re already sidestepping authentic Vietnamese summer rolls by including shredded cabbage in place of shredded lettuce and rice vermicelli, you may as well get all crazy creative and include whatever kaleidoscopic colors of veggies you and your friends and family fancy, whether cut into skinny spears or shredded or super thinly sliced. Here, a little inspiration to get you thinking…
- Romaine lettuce
- Snow peas
- Bell peppers of any color
- Sweet potato
- Chioggia or golden beets
Vegetarian Summer Rolls
For the vegetarian summer rolls
- 2 large carrots preferably multicolored, grated
- 1 cup shredded purple cabbage
- 1 cup lightly packed basil leaves
- 1 cup lightly packed mint leaves
- 1 firm but ripe avocado
- Six (8-to 9-inch) rice papers
For the dipping sauce
- 6 tablespoons water
- 1/4 cup fresh lime juice (from 3 to 4 limes)
- 1/4 cup mint leaves
- 1/4 cup basil leaves
- 2 tablespoons sweet white miso paste
- 2 tablespoons peanut or almond butter
- Chili powder to taste (optional)
- 1 tablespoon white sesame seeds (optional)
Make the vegetarian summer rolls
- Assemble small piles of the carrots, cabbage, basil, and mint on a cutting board. Halve the avocado and slice each half into slices 1/4 inch wide.
- Fill a large shallow bowl with warm water. To soften the rice papers, submerge them, 1 at a time, in the water until it becomes pliable, about 10 seconds. Place the softened rice paper on your work surface and arrange about 1/6 of the carrots, cabbage, basil, mint, and avocado slightly off center. To wrap, pull the edge of the wrapper closest to the filling up and over the filling and tuck it snugly over the ingredients. Continue to roll the rice paper tightly just a little, then fold in both ends and continue to roll in a tight cylinder, as if you were making a burrito. Repeat with the remaining rice papers and filling ingredients. Cover with parchment paper and then plastic wrap to keep from drying out and keep at room temperature while you make the dipping sauce or refrigerate for up to 24 hours.
Make the dipping sauce
- In a blender, combine the water, lime juice, mint, basil, miso, almond butter, and chili powder, if using, until smooth. Taste and, if desired, adjust the ingredients according to personal preference. Transfer to a small dish. (You can cover and refrigerate the dipping sauce for up to 24 hours.)
To serve the summer rolls and dipping sauce
- Cut the vegetarian summer rolls in half, if desired, and place on a platter. Set the dish of dipping sauce on the side and, if desired, sprinkle with sesame seeds.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
This vegetarian summer rolls recipe is great for a simple, healthy, and tasty appetizer—especially when you need something vegetarian-friendly! I would suggest adding some chopped peanuts or cashews to the summer rolls for a little crunch. Much of the flavor lies in the peanut sauce. Lastly, I would probably double the entire yield since it takes a little while to prepare the rolls and then they disappeared very quickly and it would be nice to have a bigger batch. We ate 4 summer rolls in one sitting and then 2 the next day and the avocado seemed to keep just fine—no browning at all. Great recipe with room for experimentation!
These crunchy fresh delights would be perfect for a light lunch or pretty appetizer. They were healthy and refreshing and had great flavor, although we felt that they could have benefited from a little more spice. Adding the chili powder to the dipping sauce really helped. I made a batch, sampled, and then refrigerated the rest overnight. The summer rolls were as crunchy and delicious the next day.
What makes these vegetarian summer rolls really shine is the quantity of mint and basil involved. It’s a lot, so don’t think you can buy those little packets of herbs at the supermarket and have enough to do this recipe. You can strip a whole plant making these. But the intense herby-ness is what I love about summer rolls, and most restaurant versions sell you short on that very aspect. So sometime during summer, when you’ve got more basil in the garden than you know what to do with, and your mint is invading your yard…that’s when you make this recipe. The dipping sauce is rather unconventional, but I have no complaints about the taste. The herbs predominate and echo the flavors in the summer rolls. I’m convinced the dipping sauce would be excellent in a number of other applications. Also, I got 8 rolls out of this, rather than the 6 promised. So with two rolls per person as a serving, that would be 4 servings.
These vegetarian summer rolls are the perfect spring treat, though you can use this recipe year round. This completely healthy version of the appetizer at Vietnamese restaurants is completely doable at home. If your first effort is less than perfection, you have a great excuse to make more and polish your rolling skills. The sauce is a great change-up from the expected peanut or soy-vinegar dipping sauces. I used a drop or two of Sriracha to spice it up in place of chile powder. Make a batch or two of these and you will be looking around at what is fresh and seasonal and make your own colorful crunchy combinations. As soon as my Thai basil is back in the garden I will be trying that as a variation, and microgreens will be in the next batch. Plan on making 1 to 2 rolls per person, sliced in half as an appetizer or first course, or 2 to 3 rolls per person if this is the entree. Great way to get your veggies and they would be a great vehicle for colorful veggies for kid’s meals. This is a kid-friendly recipe to make as well, and in that case you might make smaller rolls.
Originally published January 08, 2017