It feels like 2017 is the year of the egg. We are living in an egg-topped age, people. So my question is, how do you like yours? I can’t say that I am able to pick a favorite way, but one of my favorite dishes combines all of my general favorite ingredients.
Tomato sauce + Basil +Eggs = Heaven on the plate.
This healthy recipe is perfect any time of the day, but I first discovered it at one of my go-to neighborhood restaurants called Felice. It was during one of those epic meals with my girlfriends where we stayed for over three hours catching up while laughing hysterically over freshly baked breads, Bellini’s, and more… so much more.
Do you have a go-to person that you split everything with when you go out to eat? If you don’t, I highly recommend that you recruit one immediately. It’s a real game-changer. I saddled myself up with my split-buddy over 25 years ago, so you can imagine that we sort of have down a system at this point.
My wife for life… aka my splitsy buddy who has been doubling my menu options for so many years.
Been splitting meals since 1991.
When it comes to any breakfast-type options, I always order the savory dish and she orders the sweet and then we swap. It’s a tradition I love so much that I hope we will continue it well into our denture days when we have to tuck our boobs into our trousers, (wow, I am really painting you a picture there).
Aaaaanyway, we split “Uova al Piatto” on that fine Manhattan Sunday morning and we were blown away. It’s just a quick little tomato sauce with eggs cooked right in it, but I could not believe I hadn’t tried making baked eggs at home. Especially since it’s so ridiculously simple.
This recipe is sort of a hodgepodge of different ingredients in one oven-proof pan, so I suggest playing around with it and adding or swapping items based on your preference. Want to add spinach and garlic? Go for it! Thinking smoked or buffalo mozzarella would be a nice little addition? How could it NOT be?!
The beginning of March in NYC still has a little bite in the air even though the end of February gave us a nice glimpse into spring weather last week.
So if you’re still stuck in winter weather like me, I have just the thing. If not, just pretend you’re in your sleeping bag jacket and in desperate need of a recipe that will warm up what my dad calls “your kishkes” (or to the rest of us, your soul).
How does red lentil soup sound? My recipe is perfect for when you’re craving something hearty and comforting yet nutritious.
This soup has 6 ingredients and has convinced even the biggest lentil naysayers that these pink-hued legumes can taste so freaking good. Bonus? It takes less than an hour to make and requires minimal cleanup as it is a one-pot recipe.
The combination of simple ingredients that this soup calls for consists of things that are often hanging around in my fridge and pantry, allowing me to whip it up on a whim. Plus, this soup reheats up beautifully and the lentils provide plenty of plant-based protein and fiber, making it a perfect dish to have for lunch or a light dinner throughout the week.
Anything that is this delicious, super heart healthy, easy to make, and hits the spot on a cozy winter day gets an A+ in my book.
I wish I can be in my gardens every day. I also wish I can see my parents every day.
The recipe I am posting today is the bees knees. It is a total game-changer. Why, you ask? I make this dish on the reg because this version saves so much time and cuts a lot of calories from the typical recipe. I have a strong feeling that you will love this dish.
Every time I make a tray of classic Eggplant Parmesan, it is so labor intensive that when all is said and done, I usually wind up calling my mother or one of my aunts and I say, “As delicious as this meal is, I am not making this again for a LONG time!” They are the ones who originally taught me how to make this recipe, so they can completely relate.
It makes me sad though because I really love eggplant parmesan. That is why I created this recipe: It is not intimating. It reduces a hefty amount of oil. There is no egg, bread, and frying the eggplant. Best of all… It is still so. freaking. delicious. NO FRYING. Music to my ears.
This recipe is vegetarian, but can easily be adapted to becoming vegan by omitting the cheeses and using vegan parmesan or nutritional yeast instead.
There are less than 10 ingredients in this recipe. Sometimes when I am having company, I make a pound of linguine and extra tomato sauce to serve with this entree. Linguine is my favorite with eggplant parm, but any kind of pasta works. When it’s just me and the hubster though, we usually skip the pasta and opt for something like a shaved brussels sprout salad or sautéed mushrooms and kale on the side.
Adapted from Mario Batali: Baked Eggplant Parmesan
Author: Michele Wolfson
Serves: 4 servings
Extra-virgin olive oil
2 large eggplant, about 2 pounds
Salt and pepper
2 cups basic tomato sauce, recipe follows
2 handfuls fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
¾ pound fresh mozzarella, sliced ⅛-inch thick
½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
½ cup fresh bread crumbs, lightly toasted under broiler
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Using some extra-virgin olive oil, oil a baking sheet. Slice each eggplant about 1 to 1½ inches thick.Place on the oiled sheet. Bake the eggplant until the slices begin turning deep brown on top, about 15 minutes. Remove the eggplants from the oven. Remove the slices from the baking sheet and place them on a plate to cool.
Lower oven temperature to 350 degrees F. In an 8 by 12-inch brownie pan, spread ¼ cup sauce on the bottom of the pan.
Then, place the largest eggplant slice evenly spaced apart. Over each slice, spread 3 TBS of tomato sauce and sprinkle with a teaspoon of basil. Place one slice of mozzarella over each and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon grated Parmigiano. Place the smaller slices of eggplant over each of the disks and repeat with tomato sauce, basil, and the 2 cheeses. Repeat the layering again until all the ingredients are used.
Sprinkle the toasted bread crumbs over the top of the eggplant dish, and bake uncovered until the cheese is melts and the tops turn light brown, about 20 minutes. Serve immediately.
It’s 1:38 pm and you are schlepping to the next activity in your jam packed day. All you’ve had is a cup of coffee and a banana and you’ve been on the run since 6:30am. At this point of the day, if you are anything like me, you are going to be VERY hangry. In case you aren’t familiar with the term, hangry was coined for those of us who get angry when hungry. If you can relate, then you’ve experienced what it’s like to be a “hangry” person. See below.
When my husband agreed to love me for better or worse while reciting our vows on our wedding day, it meant that he was promising to love me through my rare dark states in which I never mean what I do or say while in the heat of a hanger attack, but like The Hulk, my barbs can sting nevertheless. If you are familiar with Tina Fey from 30 Rock, you will have a better understanding for what I am like when I am hangry.
I have the perfect solution to cure a hanger attack and they are my Berry Cherry Bars. They are energy bars and they require very little work to create in your own kitchen. Let’s get back to discussing those times when you are running out of the house and you are on-the-go all day… Those are some of the hardest moments to eat healthy and keeping our metabolisms going. One reason I think Berry Cherry Bars are great is because I can eat something homemade and the ingredient list doesn’t sound like a science project.
I love having control over knowing what exactly is going into my food, especially in this case because energy bars that are sold at the grocery store can be deceiving. The store-brand bars are often labeled “healthy” but in actuality, they are loaded with refined sugars, low-quality fats, preservatives and artificial ingredients. Have you ever checked the first ingredient in a commonly sold energy bar? I can guarantee that some sort of sweetener will be the first ingredient listed.
Making your own nutrition bars takes a short amount of time and this recipe is loaded with whole grains and protein. I only wish I knew how to make these back in college when I was eating “South Beach Diet” bars practically every single day in an effort to obtain a svelte figure and curb my hanger. I think I carried more of those bars around with me in my backpack than actual textbooks. I consumed them on the regular, and as a result, I put on an extra 10+ lbs (the daily pasta intake while studying abroad in Florence didn’t help matters).
I tried to create my protein bar recipe with the idea of keeping it simple, affordable, and containing some of the most nutritionally packed foods you could possibly eat. I love eating nuts and seeds because they are a delicious source of protein. Sunflower seeds are also loaded in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Individuals who consume them on a regular basis have a lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease or type 2 diabetes, according to the Linus Pauling Institute. I opt to use sunflower seeds instead of peanuts in some of my recipes because these power seeds are full of vitamin E, which has anti-aging effects! Anything natural that prevents wrinkles is top-notch in my book. They are also full of iron and potassium.
I make sure to add both dry and fresh fruit to these bars. They give these energy nom noms (another name we use for these guys) their soft, chewy texture. I often swap out the raspberries for blueberries and the dried cherries for dates, whole dried cranberries or apricots. The beauty of this recipe is that you can use pretty much whatever you have on hand. Dried fruit is so easy to store, making it simple to whip up these bars on a whim if you wish.
You can even add 2 TBS of a plant based protein powder to my bars because it helps keep the belly fuller for longer. This has been a new trick of mine because one of my favorite times to eat these power bars is after a killer workout, so it’s important for me to eat plenty of protein to restore my fatigued muscles. Most of the time though, I leave this step out when I am making these bars for a large group.
I am amazed that we have gotten all of our wedding gifts to fit into our one-bedroom Manhattan apartment. Many people have been in awe over the amount of kitchen supplies we received and the constant question that keeps being asked, “Where are you going to put everything?” is usually followed by this question, “Wouldn’t you guys just prefer getting cheddar (the green kind) as opposed to all of this STUFF?” Those people just don’t understand the purpose of wedding registries. They wonder, who could possibly need all that stuff?
I am here to tell you that the answer is “me.” Yes, to the Vitamix AND the Cuisinart Food Processor. Yipee to the half dozen Le Creuset pots and Staub grill pan. Hooray to the Breville Juicer, the Indian copper serving bowls, and the William-Sonoma monogrammed salt and pepper grinders. There is no shame in my game… I get pure joy out of having a fully stocked kitchen.
I don’t blame my fellow New Yorkers who think I am crazy for outfitting my kitchen with all of these top-notch supplies. The amount of stuff we now own probably wouldn’t even fit very well in a space that was 4x the size of where I currently reside. I have learned that there are two different types of people in this world; the ones who love registries and the ones who don’t. Some of us have been fantasizing about our registries at places like Williams-Sonoma, West Elm, and Restoration Hardware longer than we have been dreaming about our actual wedding.
When I was left to my own devices building our registry completely unmonitored by my former fiancé (now husband), I realized that I can peruse the Internet for hours because things like All-Clad pots and pans in all shapes and sizes truly excite me to my core. I am sure that a candied thermometer has never made the day of any registry nay-sayer.
Since I am a chef, I have had a lot of the cool crap that most pre nuptial people have been coveting for years like the Kitchen-Aid mixer and many of it’s appliances. I have owned knives that I consider some of my most prized possessions since I graduated from culinary school in 2011. My kitchen wasn’t in desperate need of an upgrade, but it has made cooking even more fun and I look cuter over my stovetop too (thanks Antropologie for making the CUTEST aprons and oven mits)!
Choosing a favorite appliance would be like picking a favorite child, but many of my readers know how much I love my Vitamix. We call it “the baby” here at the Broderson household and I use it very regularly. The baby comes out to play anytime I make this nut butter miso dressing. This concoction gets put on a multitude of different roasted veggies because it’s so delicious and in this food obsessed kitchen it is our version of crack.
This recipe goes perfectly with my efforts to go to Pure Barre class 4-5x a week, which I am still maintaining post wedding. I forced myself to sign a 6 month contract so I didn’t try to get lazy. If you have anything green from edamame, to peas, or even a leafy green, you can throw that in here too and it will be delish. It is my belief that you can never have too many greens!
Heat oven to 425 degrees. Place quinoa in salted water on the stove and cook according to package directions.
Cut sweet potatoes into 1-inch cubes. Cut tops off cauliflower and separate into bite-sized florets.
Toss sweet potatoes with 1 TBS olive oil, place on baking sheet, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes, until browning underneath. Flip and toss chunks around, then add cauliflower to the baking sheet, season again with salt and pepper, and roast for another 10 to 20 minutes, until cauliflower is lightly charred at edges and sweet potato is fully bronzed and tender. Toss chunks around one more time if it looks like they’re cooking unevenly.
In a small skillet, toast sesame seeds until fragrant and then let cool.
While vegetables roast, prepare the nut butter miso dressing: Combine everything in a vitamix and blend until very smooth, scraping down sides once. Taste and adjust ingredients if needed, but try to resist adding more sweet since the saltiness pairs wonderfully once added to the sweet potato.
Assemble bowls: Scoop some red quinoa into each, then pile on the roasted sweet potatoes, cauliflower, and toss in the baby kale. Coat lightly with sesame-miso dressing and finish with toasted sesame seeds and sliced avocado. Serve with extra dressing on the side.
Mozzarella and tomatoes arguably make for the most perfect food pairing of all time. I am sure when people think of two items that go best together, the first things that come to mind are pairings like peanut butter and jelly or ketchup on fries. Both are excellent food pairings, but a forkful of pillowy chunks of fresh mozzarella mixed with a ruby red tomato, especially on a hot summer day, cannot be beat. One bite and you’ll get a sweet blast followed by a wonderful tomato flavor.
My recipe is not a typical caprese because I have added things like lentils and vinegar. Truth be told, I like it even better this way because the lentils turn a classic appetizer into a main dish. Sometimes I even add in a dollop of pesto and mix that in if I have some sauce sitting in my fridge (as homemade pesto tends to be a main staple in my house). If I REALLY want to make it an entree, I add farro, barley, sorghum, or another health supportive grain and my work is done! I typically make it the way that I am posting below, but if you have any other ideas to make it delicious, let me know!
The tomato crop from my dad’s garden this summer has been the best in years! I hope all of you fellow green thumbs are having a great tomato season as well. We have picked HUNDREDS of tomatoes this August, which was the inspiration for my tomato series. I have bags of tomatoes covering all of my countertops and a freezer filled with jars of tomato sauce that we will delve into with delight on a cold wintery night many months from now.
This salad holds up well in the fridge for several days and makes a great lunch to pack for work!
Rinse the lentils well, discarding any rocks or discolored lentils.
Place lentils and 2 cups salted water in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer. Turn to low heat and cover the pot. Cook until lentils are tender, about 30 minutes. Add more water if they are drying out.
Drain cooked lentils of any leftover water and let cool in a large bowl. Gently stir in the olive oil and vinegar.
Add the tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil. Toss to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Recently, I realized that some of my favorite recipes have very few ingredients. I keep gravitating towards the whole “less is more” concept. Plus, this whole “peasant food” kick that I’ve been on has been good on my waistline and my credit card statement. I just looked at the percentage of my hard-earned money that goes towards my groceries and it ain’t pretty. I guess I am just the kind of girl who would rather buy morels and oyster mushrooms than a pair of Jimmy Choo’s. Here’s to hoping that recipes like this one will help my grocery store overspending issues.
Spring started on Friday and the fresh peas that I have been lusting for are on their way. But, for now, I will be using frozen peas that were plucked off the vine during the peak of their season and I recommend for you to do the same if you are a mid-westerner or northeasterner. You people in nicer climates where the warm sun might be beaming on your face at this very moment, can go take a walk, and pick up some fresh peas while you’re at it.
I’m not going to lie- I’m getting very sick of this weather. My love for my native land, New York, runs deep, but it’s getting harder and harder to picture myself here for all of my days when the winter drags on in this fashion. I guess it could be worse… I could have been living in Boston, and after this winter, that would have been my straight up nightmare.
Anyway, this soup with keep you warm and skinny, which are two of my favorite things. I made it recently when I was having a girl’s night in with a bunch of my favorite gal pals and they all thought it was a hit. In fact, one of my friends who is a CrossFit junkie threatened me if I didn’t post this recipe ASAP. She’s a tough cookie now with her no-nonsense muscles, so I figured that I better listen to her and post my pea soup.
If you feel the early signs of a cold, you should make this soup tonight!
Health benefits of….
Onion: Onions improves blood circulation, disperse cold, damp, and mucus from the system, and help detoxify. Onions have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, and anti viral properties. When buying, select firm onions that have a papery, dry skin with little or no neck and no soot. Avoid onions that are light for their weight or are beginning to sprout.
Olive Oil: Nearly three quarters of olive oil’s fat content is monosaturated fat, which lowers your LDL (bad cholesterol). Extra virgin olive oil is highly regarded for its ability to support the liver and gallbladder functions.
Peas: Green peas are high in vitamin A and B-complex and are a good source of calcium and potassium. While shopping, look for peas that have small, crisp, shiny pods that squeak when rubbed together. Refrigerate and use immediately.
Crushed Red Pepper: Crushed red pepper is a great addition to a meal and can help reduce inflammation. If you want more flavor in your food plus health benefits like weight loss and pain relief, try adding crushed red pepper to your meals. In traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurveda, a traditional form of Indian medicine, red peppers have been used to treat digestive problems, circulatory problems, infections and arthritis. Most crushed red pepper mixtures contain a variety of different peppers such as bell, jalapeno, ancho and cayenne peppers, which range from mild and peppery to hot and spicy. If you have pain or inflammation in your body, eating more crushed red pepper may help. Capsaicin is a compound in peppers that gives them a hot and spicy flavor and is also responsible for reducing pain.
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan, add onion, and cook over medium-low heat for 5 to 10 minutes, until the onion is tender. Add the vegetable stock, increase the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Add the peas and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until the peas are tender. (Frozen peas will take only 3 minutes.) Off the heat, add the salt, and pepper.
Puree the soup in batches: place 1 cup of soup in a blender, place the lid on top, and puree on low speed. With the blender still running, open the venthole in the lid and slowly add more soup until the blender is three-quarters full. Pour the soup into a large bowl and repeat until all the soup is pureed. Serve hot and top with crushed red pepper.
I am a little bit obsessed with Israeli couscous. It combines a lot of my favorite qualities from both of my motherlands: Israel and Italy. Why Italy? Well, Israeli couscous is sort of like pasta, but it’s a good transitional grain to its heartier relatives like quinoa, farro, barley, buckwheat, and sorghum. Israeli couscous is the grain that got my Italian mother out of the routine of making pasta multiple times a week and into a habit of exploring other grains. When I introduced it into my parents’ world my mother looked up and asked, “why didn’t I know about this until now?”
Look, I am a health supportive chef, and I am aware that Israeli couscous is not a whole grain and it’s actually closer to a pasta than anything else since it is made from semolina flour. There are two main reasons why practically any dish that you see couscous:
1. It’s a good transition grain to get skeptics into trying carbs outside of bread & pasta. Israeli couscous can be replaced with a grain such as quinoa, bulgur or barley for added nutrients and fiber.
2. I can’t be perfect every. Single. Night. Israeli couscous is comforting and delicious. I load the veggies and the homemade slow roasted vegetables in this recipes and even kids LOVE the taste.
This recipe is good for a dinner party or a Wednesday night at home. I tweak it for every time of year, but the asparagus was surprisingly amazing looking for this time of year, so I just couldn’t resist. This is my favorite go-to Israeli couscous recipe. Clients ask for it time and time again, so I think you’re gonna love it too.
• 10 oz. shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced lengthwise
• ½ cup fresh cremini mushrooms, sliced
• ½ pound asparagus, trimmed, peeled and cut into 1-inch sections. Remove thick ends
• 1 ½ cup vegetable stock (unless using the roasted tomato sauce. Then only use ½ cup)
• ¼ cup dry white wine or vermouth
• 3 Tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated
• 2 Tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
• Freshly ground black pepper
Bring 2 ½ cups of water (or vegetable broth if you have extra) to a rolling boil.
Add 1½ tablespoons of salt and stir, then add the couscous. Let it boil rapidly for about 7 minutes, or until it is almost but not quite ready; it should have a hard core in its very center. Drain the couscous quickly and then rinse it thoroughly under cold running water, turning it over several times. Leave in a sieve or colander.
Put the oil in a large sauté pan or large frying pan (preferably nonstick) and set over high heat. When hot, put in the shallot and garlic. Stir for 20 seconds and put in all the mushrooms. Stir rapidly for about 1 minute, or until the mushrooms look satiny.
Now put in the asparagus. Stir for 30 seconds then add the stock, vermouth and about ⅛ teaspoon salt.
Bring to a boil, cover, and keep cooking on high heat for 2½ minutes. Put in the partially cooked couscous and cook, uncovered for another 2½ minutes on high heat, stirring frequently. Turn off the heat. Check the salt. You will probably need about ¼ teaspoon more. Add the salt, pepper, cheese and parsley. Stir to mix and serve immediately.
***Sometimes I make this with a roasted tomato sauce instead of using 1 ½ cups of vegetable stock. When making the tomato sauce, I use ½ cup of vegetable broth and then use the 1 cup towards cooking the couscous with water.
Halve tomatoes through stem ends and arrange, cut sides up, in 1 layer in a large shallow (1-inch-deep) baking pan. Add garlic to pan and roast in middle of oven until tomatoes are slightly shriveled around edges, about 1 hour. Cool in pan on a rack 30 minutes.
Peel garlic and puree with oil, water, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and ½ cup roasted tomatoes in a food processor until dressing is very smooth. Pour over the couscous with the veggies.
This recipe almost makes winter bearable because it is so delicious and arguably my favorite soup recipe of all time. I don’t understand why all restaurants can’t get on board with using veggie broth so that this soup can always be vegetarian! There are so many times when I want to order French Onion Soup when I am out at a restaurant, but often I am crushed when I find out that the establishment uses beef broth. My Aunt Ginny’s Vegetarian French Onion Soup recipe is top notch. It uses one of my favorite cheeses called Grueyer. Grueyer is a fancy version of Swiss cheese, but even people who hate Swiss usually still love the taste.
Whenever I make this recipe, I somehow feel very connected to Julia Child as I am slicing the onions and I want my guests to feel like the goddess herself just made them a delicious recipe when they come over. Usually, I make this soup on a blistering cold night where you feel like you are in an old Campbell Soup commercial—you know the one—when the snowman comes inside to a hot bowl of soup and morphs into a little redheaded boy. Only this soup is homemade and very, very delicious. This soup is also a remedy for making a bad day into a good one.
The version of French onion soup that I make is named after my Aunt Ginny because she is the one who taught me how to make this spectacular soup for supper. If you read my blog often, you will note that my aunts really kill it in the soup department since I posted about my Aunt Elena’s cabbage soup a few months ago. Aunt Ginny made this for me once when I was very little and I remember thinking that I had never tasted a soup quite this delicious. My mom makes this exact recipe as well and it’s a Wolfson family favorite. It freezes very well too, so make some extra!
Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and even though it goes against every rule (onion breath) as long as the two of you have onion breath together, you’ll barely even notice. Your taste buds will be so satisfied and that matters more when you are with the one you truly love!
Tips before making this recipe: Slicing onions makes for a tearing experience… In order to reduce crying in your kitchen, slice cold onions near a flame and use a sharp knife, as it cuts better and deteriorates less cells that cause tearing to happen.
1 teaspoon table salt, plus additional to taste and pepper (optional, can use white pepper)
3 TBS of all-purpose flour, (make sure this is a true 3 TBS and NOT heaping).
4 cups of vegetable broth
½ loaf of French bread/Baguette, sliced (doesn't have to be day fresh bread).
½ pound Gruyere Cheese, grated
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Heat the oil and butter in the pot on medium-low heat. Then, sauté garlic and onions for 3 minutes.
Add ¼ cup of red wine and increase the heat to medium.
Add salt & pepper then continue cooking for about 20 minutes. Stir frequently and lower the heat if necessary to avoid burning the onions. They should be golden brown and soft. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. (The onions should be fairly sweet at this point).
Sprinkle the flour and cook slowly on medium-low, stirring, for another 3 to 4 minutes.
Add broth and simmer for 15 minutes.
Ladle the soup into individual ovenproof bowls.
Throw the bread slices on a baking sheet and toast under hard and crunchy. If you want, you can break these into smaller pieces. Then, top each bowl with a layer of bread so that it's enough to cover the whole surface. The bread acts as the floatation device for the cheese. Sprinkle grated Gruyere cheese and sprinkle on top of bread.
Place to bowls in the oven and bake or heat under the broiler until cheese is bubbly and brown.
I don’t know about you, but I am always looking for a healthy snack with fresh ingredients. The trouble is that these kinds of quick bites aren’t always easy to come by and when I want to munch on something to get “over the hungry hump” I am usually about to hit starvation mode. Often, my final decision is to just quickly shove something down the hatch and run along to the next activity on my schedule. The truth is, when one is trying to eat a healthy, it’s easy to get off track by choosing an easy-to-open packaged snack that is filled with sugar and processed ingredients.
I love this recipe because it goes back to the basics. It’s a sexier way to snack on raw veggies. If you’ve read my blog in the past you know my feeling about a lackluster boring vegetable crudité snack. That’s why I call these spring salad rolls, because it’s taking all of those raw salad ingredients and wrapping them up into a thin rice paper, so you can bring your healthy ingredients on the go!
Rice paper wrappers (also sold as spring roll skins) can be found in the Asian section of many markets. Cut all the filling ingredients about 3 1/2 inches long. Cut crunchy ingredients, like carrots or bell peppers, the thinnest; slice softer ones, like cucumbers, thicker. If making ahead, place rolls in a plastic container, cover with a damp towel and seal tightly. They will keep at room temperature up to 3 hours. I like to prepare all of these ingredients ahead of time, so that when I want to make these wraps in a pinch, it only takes me 2 minutes!
I truly fell in love with Thai food when I was traveling in Sydney, Australia. They got it going on with their food scene down under in Sydney. I had spring rolls similar to these with the most delicious black rice and tofu curry and I thought, “I wish I could eat here all the time.” To my delight, I found that spring rolls are surprisingly easy and fun to make, while also looking pretty fancy at the same time. I put a spinach leaf on the top of my rolls not only for health purposes, but also because it makes them look so pretty. These rolls are a fan favorite with my guests.
This recipe lists what I typically put into my spring salad rolls, but you can fill them with whatever you have or buy things that you think might be good. I dip these in a low-sodium tamari sauce, but they are also so good with a spicy almond dressing. If you find brown rice paper wrappers, grab those because they are hard to find!
Serves: 6-10 Spring Rolls (depending on how much filling you add)
12 8-inch round rice paper wrappers
2 cups fresh spinach leaves
8 oz. Thai-style baked tofu, cut into 24 strips
¼ seedless European cucumber, cut into thin strips
2 carrots, cut into thin strips
1 green onions, cut lengthwise into strips
1 small, firm, ripe mango, seeded, peeled and cut into thin strips
½ red bell pepper, seeded and cut into thin strips
1 ripe Hass avocado, pitted, peeled and cut into thin strips
½ cup basil leaves, sliced
½ cup mint leaves, sliced
Low-sodium tamari sauce
2 limes, cut into wedges for garnish
Fill bowl with hot water; immerse wrappers, 1 at a time, until soft and it becomes flexible enough to wrap, about 1 minute. I do not do the wrappers all at once, I dip one in the hot water and then proceed to fill it up. If you leave it in the water for too long it will get soggy and tear and if you don't leave it long enough it will be too dry and snap. Gently remove the wrapper with both hands and place it on the constructing plate.
Now it's time to put together your spring rolls. Lay spinach leaf on the middle of the wrapping paper. Arrange 3 or 4 strips each of tofu, cucumber, carrot, green onion, mango, bell pepper and avocado in center of lettuce; top with sprinkling of basil and mint. Starting at closest edge, lift edges of wrapper and lettuce up and over filling, then fold in sides. Roll into tight cylinder like a burrito. Place roll, seam side down, on platter. Repeat with remaining wrappers.
Garnish with lime wedges, and serve with low sodium tamari sauce or a spicy almond sauce.