I came across this gorgeous blog earlier this week and read this lovely essay about the difficulty of making choices. If there’s one thing that I struggle with in life, it’s certainly with making decisions. From what I’m going to make for dinner, to what city I should live in, what shirt I should wear that day, what career path I should follow or what ice cream flavour to order. I’ve always lived with that fear of missing out. As if my entire life and happiness depended on these decisions. What if I made the wrong choice? What if I had regrets?
This current period of my life is filled with important decisions to make. Things are changing and evolving quickly and it’s hard to keep up. As much as I’ve pushed myself to become better at making decisions, I realize that it will always be a work-in-progress for me. And I’ve learned to accept it. I’ve learned that there is no such thing as making the wrong choice anyways. That’s the beauty of life. We are evolving beings and we constantly learn from our mistakes. There will never be wrong decisions. There will always just be decisions that make us grow or make us stronger.
I was in a recipe inspiration block last week and couldn’t decide what to make for this blog post. Spring produce still hadn’t appeared at the farmer’s market (that was before I finally got my hands on some gorgeous wild leeks). Whenever I’m in a block or have no inspiration for what to make for dinner, I often come back to this simple dish. Some classics never fail. And Spring rolls to me is one of those.
There are a million variations of Spring rolls recipes around the web. Mine is not particularly unique or different. But it’s my favourite and the one I always come back to. It’s loaded with fresh veggies, vermicelli, fragrant herbs, tofu or tempeh (sometimes) and this spicy almond butter dipping sauce (always). I chose mango here because they were prevalent at the market, but you could interprete this dish as you please and fill up the rolls with just about anything, really.
Just make sure there’s a bit of a crunch (cucumber, carrots or bell peppers are great for that), something to make these more filling (vermicelli or a protein). And lots and lots of fresh herbs. Do as you please, but please don’t skip on this dipping sauce. It’s too good to be left out.
Notes on the recipe: These rolls would be delicious with almost any raw vegetable. You can also add tofu or tempeh for extra protein if you’d like. I like my rolls with all three herbs (basil, cilantro and mint), but you could use only one or two of them, as you desire. I made quick pickled shallots, but if you want to skip this step, you can simply use raw shallots.
- 1 medium shallot, thinly sliced
- ½ cup water
- ¼ cup rice vinegar
- ¼ cup almond butter
- 1 tbsp grated ginger
- 1 garlic clove
- 2 tbsp lime juice
- 1 tbsp pure maple syrup
- 1 tbsp tamari
- Dried chili pepper or chili flakes, to taste
- Water to thin, as needed
- 8-10 rice papers
- Fresh herbs (cilantro, mint and basil)
- 1½ cup cooked rice vermicelli
- 1 avocado, pitted and sliced thinly
- 1 large mango, peeled and sliced into thin strips
- 1 red bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
- Sunflower or pea shoots (optional)
- ¼ cup cashews, lightly toasted and chopped (optional - sesame seeds would be nice too)
- Place the sliced shallot in a medium-sized jar. Pour the water and rice vinegar over the shallot to cover. Seal the jar and place in the refrigerator while you prepare the other ingredients.
- Mix almond butter, ginger, garlic, lime juice, maple syrup, tamari and chili peppers in a blender (or use an immersion blender). Add water, one tablespoon at a time and blend until the desired consistency is achieved.
- Taste and adjust seasoning by adding more chili pepper if needed. Set aside until ready to serve.
- Prepare a station with all the ingredients for the filling (cooked vermicelli, sliced mango and veggies, fresh herbs, picked shallot, shoots and toasted cashews). Have a large plate or flat surface ready.
- Fill a large bowl with hot water. Gently dip a wrap paper in the water to soften - about 15-20 seconds. Carefully lay the softened rice paper on your flat surface.
- Place some with fresh herbs in the center of the wrap. Then fill with vermicelli, a few slices of avocado, slices of mango and red pepper, pickled shallot, shoots and chopped cashews.
- Gently fold the sides in, then fold the bottom towards the center. Keep rolling gently, but as tightly as you can until it's entirely rolled. Continue with the rest of your rolls until all the fillings are used up.
- Cut the rolls into 4 pieces if desired and serve with the spicy almond butter dipping sauce.
“Whatever you decide to do, make sure it makes you happy.”