Flower Spring Rolls with Tamarind and Peanut SauceJun 30, 2022 ● By Tara Lanich-LaBrie
photo courtesy of Tara Lanich-LaBrie
Spring rolls are a great way to eat all the fresh veggies, flowers and fruits of the season, and they look like little paintings with flowers on the outside and different colors and textures throughout. In the summer months, our bodies naturally gravitate toward eating more raw vegetables and fruits to cool our system and attune to the season of lightness. The grounding aspect in these petal rolls comes from the root veggies and the piquant, velvety peanut sauce. They are easy to make with whatever veggies and fruits we have on hand and are a great meal to take on the trail. Gather whatever ingredients sound delicious at the local market or farm, forage some delicacies if you have the time and put on your favorite music to inspire making these rolls.
Package of spring roll wrappers/rice wrappers
2-3 cucumbers or summer squash, cut into lengthwise strips
Edible flowers (optional) such as scarlet begonias, nasturtiums, rose petals, calendula, dandelion petals, sweet alyssum, radish flowers, bachelor buttons, violets, violas or pea flowers
1 bunch mint (about 1 cup)
1 bunch cilantro (about 1 cup)
Combination of fresh root vegetables in an assortment of colors, such as turnips, radishes and carrots, sliced in thin sticks
Spinach, nasturtium leaves or other tender green leaves to create a background for your petals
1 avocado, sliced thin (optional)
Asparagus, sliced in thin sticks
Red pepper, sliced thin, lengthwise
10-oz pack of thin rice noodles
Snap peas, purple or green, sliced lengthwise
All of these ingredients are recommendations or suggestions meant to inspire, but they are merely ideas. Use what is available. Spring rolls are excellent with almost any combination of fresh ingredients. I use a general framework of one-third each of crunchy or harder ingredients, like cucumber, squash, radish and carrot; softer ingredients like avocado, peach, mushroom and iceberg lettuce; and flowers, herbs, leaves such as rose petals, calendula, basil, mint and squash blossoms.
First, prep all the ingredients and set up a space to roll and see all of the ingredients. It isn’t necessary to cut everything perfectly, and tearing lettuces or other leaves is a great way to save time and create texture. I like to have my ingredients separated by type or color to create the rolls like a painting, using a palette.
Have a bowl with water that is large enough to dip the spring roll wrappers. Next to this, have a plate that is large enough to hold the wrappers. Have bowls or plates or a large cutting board with all the ingredients laid out to access everything easily and quickly.
Quickly dip a rice wrapper into the water and place it onto the plate. Add flowers or individual flower petals to the wrapper. Layer the petals to about a half-inch of the edge of the wrapper. There is really no wrong way to create these rolls.
Starting in the middle of the roll, on top of the petals and background leaves, make a line of crunchier or “harder” veggies like carrot, cucumber or radish sticks. Add up to nine sticks about two to three inches long each to make a line in the center. They can be close together and on top of one another.
Next, add softer veggies or fruit (peach/mango/mushrooms/avocado) next to or on top of the line of harder veggies. Now sprinkle on the cilantro/mint/basil (roughly 1 to 2 tablespoons total per roll, unless you love these flavors and want to add more). Add leaves, lettuces, sprouts or spinach on top of this center line. It doesn’t need to be perfect at all, so let things spill out and over.
Try to work as quickly as possible while adding ingredients; it will get faster as you make them. Then begin to lift one side of the roll using both hands and carefully pull up into the center of the roll toward the line of filling. Use your thumb to tuck the ingredients under and your fingers to bring more of the wrapper across over the line and then roll it all so the top goes under. You will need a small amount of the wrapper clear of ingredients at the end so it can seal with the roll you have made. (I don’t tuck the sides at all because doing it this way is faster and generally holds together better.)
Tamarind and Peanut Sauce
1 cup crunchy peanut butter (no oils, sugar or additives)
1 can full-fat coconut milk
4 Tbsp maple syrup
2 Tbsp (heaping) tamarind paste
3 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, grated
½ tsp sea salt, to taste
Sprinkle of cayenne pepper
Combine all ingredients in a medium-sized saucepan. Heat on low and stir or whisk until all ingredients are blended well. If you like a thinner sauce, add water, a tablespoon at a time, but wait a few minutes until it is incorporated fully. Peanut sauce thickens more as it cools.
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