The last few weeks have been surprisingly crazy for me. First, I had some quality family time down the shore. Then it was Labor Day weekend, which really meant that I had to get back into study mode and crack down on those books. And we can’t forget about the freakishly early Rosh Hashana (shana tova, everyone!). Because it ran into shabbat, the holiday basically lasted a whopping three days! And now we’re well into September, despite whatever the heat and humidity is trying to tell you, and all I can think is, “where the heck did my summer go?”
Anyway, in honor of the new (lunar) year, I’ve decided to be more conscious of what’s in my pantry. I’m trying to go through what I already have and trying to use up more of my grains, sauces, and random other things I have hidden away in there. Really this means that I have to be a lot more creative and crafty with what I make. It’s kind of fun – it’s like a game or a puzzle I have to solve. I have these four ingredients – what could I possibly do with them?
Well, in my attempt to go through my pantry, I found these rice paper rounds that I bought ages ago but never did anything with (thank goodness they don’t go bad!). As soon as I found them, I knew what I was going to make for dinner – Thai spring rolls! The filling of these spring rolls is made up of my regular grocery items this time of year, and the dipping sauce utilizes tons of pantry items for me, so I barely had to do any planning or make extra trips to the grocery store for this dish.
I like these spring rolls because they are light yet flavorful, and they feel fun and exotic without using any specialized ingredients outside the actual rice paper. The peach and basil provide a bright, summery note (after all, it is 90 degrees outside…), the arugula gives it a kick, and the pepper and cucumber provide a lovely crunch. The peanut ginger dipping sauce is incredibly flavorful and can easily be poured over noodles, into a stir fry, or used as a marinade. In fact, I would recommend making double the sauce and immediately reserving half for one of those uses.
The hardest part of making these rolls is the actual rolling. Somehow, I managed to keep all my rice papers intact, but my first few rolls were not particularly pretty. But I very quickly got the hang of it. Make these as an appetizer for your next dinner party, or pack a few for a light lunch. Either way, you won’t be able to get enough!
Thai Spring Rolls with a Peanut Ginger Dipping Sauce
10 rice paper rounds
2 peaches, halved and sliced thinly
1 bunch basil leaves
3-4 cups arugula
1 cucumber, julienned
1 red bell pepper, julienned
Boiling water and a 9 inch cake pan or large, shallow bowl
1/4 cup smooth, unsalted peanut butter
1/4 cup warm water
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 scallion, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon reduced sodium tamari sauce (or soy sauce)
Juice of half a lime
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (more or less to taste)
Honey to taste (can substitute agave)
1. Pour the boiling water into the cake pan, filling it half way. Set aside for about 5 minutes, until it is still warm, but you can put your fingers in without burning yourself.