Packed with fresh colorful veggies, these summer rolls are an easy appetizer to serve on any occasion. Served with a creamy peanut sauce, these crunchy rolls are light, healthy, and super easy to make.
Japanese spring rolls are one of my all-time favorite appetizers. But I don’t always feel like frying my appetizer rolls. These summer rolls are my go-to recipe whenever I crave something fresh and light.
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Summer rolls VS Spring rolls
You may be wondering the difference between summer and spring rolls. Both originate in Asia though spring rolls originate in China while summer rolls come from Vietnam. Summer rolls also go by Vietnamese spring rolls or fresh spring rolls.
The wrappers used to make spring rolls and summer rolls are different. Spring rolls are wrapped in dough made of flour and water, while summer rolls are wrapped in rice paper. Additionally, spring rolls are fried while summer rolls aren’t.
You will need rice paper and a bunch of fresh vegetables to make summer rolls. Here’s what I put in mine.
- Vermicelli noodles. These thin rice noodles not only provide flavor but also give structure to the rolls and make it easy to roll them.
- Cabbage. I prefer using purple cabbage as its bright color makes the rolls look more fun and appetizing. You can also use green cabbage.
- Carrots. Peel the carrots and cut them into matchsticks.
- Bell pepper. I use yellow bell pepper as I aim to have as many colors in my rolls as possible.
- Avocado. The creaminess of the avocado contrasts nicely with the crunchy vegetables.
- Greens. Use mixed greens (a blend of spinach, romaine, and lettuce) for maximum flavor.
- Sesame seed oil. To toss the vermicelli noodles after cooking them.
- Lemon juice. To drizzle over the avocado to prevent it from browning.
- Rice paper. These translucent wrappers don’t need cooking and display colorful fillings inside.
- Salt and pepper. To season the avocado.
How to make summer rolls
Making summer rolls does require some prep work. But there is nothing complicated about making this appetizer. Here’s how you make these vibrant rolls.
Step 1 – Prepare the veggies
Prepare all ingredients. Shred the cabbage, cut the carrots into matchsticks, and julienne the bell pepper. Chop the parsley or the herbs of your choice. Slice the avocado and season it with lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
Step 2 – Cook the noodles
Cook the vermicelli noodles following the package instructions. Drain the noodles and rinse them under cold water. Toss the noodles with sesame oil.
Step 3 – Wrap
Before you start wrapping the rolls, fill a shallow bowl with an inch of water. Submerge a rice wrapper into the water for 30 seconds. Remove the wrapper from the water and place it on a clean towel or cutting board.
Add the filling ingredients to the middle part of the wrapper and fold over the lower part. Bring the side parts toward the center and roll upward as you would a burrito.
Repeat until all rice paper is used. Serve with peanut sauce for spring rolls.
Peanut sauce for spring rolls
The peanut sauce for spring rolls is quite special and makes all the difference in this recipe. Here is what you’ll need:
- Creamy peanut butter
- Light soy sauce
- Rice vinegar
To make the sauce, whisk together the peanut butter, soy sauce, vinegar, and garlic. Add water to improve the texture of the sauce and make it smoother.
There are no rules for fresh spring rolls. You can add and remove ingredients to make these rolls fit your preferences.
- Add protein. To make summer rolls more filling, add your favorite protein to them. You can use chicken or duck breast, shrimp, or eggs. If you are vegan, add tofu.
- Change up the veggies. This refreshing appetizer will only get better if you add more crunchy vegetables. Radishes, cucumbers, asparagus, and bean sprouts are a great addition to these rolls.
- Add peanut crumbs. They will add another layer of texture and nutty flavor to the rolls.
Tips to make the best recipe
- We recommend you use room-temperature water to soak the rice paper. Hot water hydrates the rice paper very quickly and leaves it too sticky to work with.
- Ensure the rice paper is hydrated and not stiff when rolling up the vegetables. If you are new to working with rice paper and are not yet quick with it, wet the kitchen towel to keep your work surface wet and prevent it from drying out.
- If you use lettuce, put a leaf on the rice paper first and add the remaining ingredients. The lettuce leaf will help keep the ingredients in place, making it easy to wrap the rolls.
- Once you master the art of wrapping summer rolls, experiment with the fillings. Fresh vegetables and protein are not the only filling options for these rolls. You can create amazing flavor combinations by adding pickled vegetables and fruits, including berries and mango.
To store. Leftover rolls can last up to 3 days in the fridge so long as all ingredients you have used are fresh. Wrap each roll with parchment paper or food wrap before putting them in an airtight container. This will prevent the rolls from sticking to each other and drying out.
To freeze. We don’t recommend you freeze summer rolls as the rice paper is too thin and delicate the withstand the freezing and defrosting processes.
Recommended tools to make this recipe
- Chef’s knife. To cleanly slice and dice everything up.
- Chopping board. I find working with rice paper is so much easier on a wooden surface.
- Salad spinner. To quickly clean the vegetables all at once.
Frequently asked questions
Summer rolls are a seasonal variation of spring rolls. They are commonly made with such summer vegetables as cucumbers, carrots, and bell peppers. They are never fried and are very refreshing. Hence the name.
Summer rolls are healthier than fried spring rolls. Packed with fresh vegetables and greens, these rolls are full of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. They also contain a fraction of fat compared to their deep fried counterparts.
Egg rolls are a variation of spring rolls. They are the Americanized version of spring rolls where eggs are added to the batter to make the wrapper thicker.
Easy Summer Rolls
- Make the sauce: in a small bowl, whisk together peanut butter, soy sauce, vinegar, and garlic paste. it will look curdled, but as soon as you add water, the sauce will become smooth. Add water as desired, but do not make your sauce too thin.
- Cook the noodles according to the package directions. Drain the noodles, rinse them under cold water, and drain well. Toss the noodles with sesame oil.
- Peel and slice the avocado, and season it with lemon juice and salt to taste.
- Fill a shallow pan with an inch of water. Place one piece of rice paper in the water and let it rest for 30 seconds. Place the rice paper onto the clean kitchen towel.
- Cover the lower third of the rice paper with filling ingredients: noodles, carrots, bell pepper, avocado, and parsley or desired herbs.
- Lift the lower part of the rice sheet and fold it over the filling. Bring the side parts of the rice sheet toward the center and start rolling upwards, just as you would make a burrito. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.
- Serve the spring rolls with the peanut sauce.
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