I bought the Moosewood Restaurant New Classics cookbook more than a decade ago. It was our primary cookbook for a number of years, then it slowly fell out of favor when I stopped eating gluten and dairy. Recently, however, I was thumbing through my cookbooks, looking for inspiration.
I seem to have fallen into a vegan, gluten-free way of eating over the past year. If you’ve tried eating vegan and gluten-free and were raised eating pasteurized processed cheese food and bacon sandwiches on white bread with butter and mayonnaise as I was, you know it requires a lot of inspiration.
What I discovered in my aimless thumbing was the “vegan list” in the back of the cookbook. I spent a morning looking up each recipe, checking it for gluten and for likely acceptance by my family, and making a nice, long list of new recipes to try.
One of these was very simply named “Vegetable Rolls.”
I’ve tried making spring rolls before using raw vegetable fillings, and they were kind of ho-hum. These Vegetable Rolls are not ho-hum. The vegetables are lightly sauteed, dressed in a basic sauce, and mixed with fresh tarragon and basil before they’re rolled in the rice papers. The result is a tasty, fresh, satisfying meal that’s well worth the time it takes to prepare.
My husband loved these, I loved these, my 7.5-year-old daughter opened hers up and ate the filling, and my 3.5-year-old refused to even taste them. That’s about the best we’re able to do these days. I’ll take it. I made them again later on in the week to use the rest of the mushrooms we’d bought.
The recipe includes a hoisin dipping sauce, but I couldn’t find any gluten-free, sugar-free hoisin sauce, so I made up my own little sauce out of tamari, water, rice vinegar, garlic, hot pepper sesame oil, and a little ginger. I can’t tell you the ratios because I really didn’t pay close attention, but if you play around with those, you should be able to come up with a yummy sauce. If you make your own sauce, you also might want to add a little sweetener (agave, sugar, honey).
Reprinted with permission from Moosewood Restaurant New Classics, Clarkson Potter/Publishers, 2001.
Serves 4 to 6; Total time: 1 1/2 hours
1 1/2 to 2 ounces bean thread noodles
1 T peanut or other vegetable oil (I used sesame)
2 c grated green cabbage
2 c sliced mushrooms
4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 T grated fresh ginger root
1 c peeled and grated carrots
1 c thinly sliced red bell peppers
1/2 c finely chopped scallions
2 T soy sauce (I used wheat-free tamari)
1 T rice vinegar
1 T chopped fresh tarragon
2 T chopped fresh basil
12 rice paper discs (8 inches across)
1/4 c chopped peanuts (I didn’t use these)
Soak the bean threads in warm water until softened, about 10 to 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet and saute the cabbage for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the mushrooms, garlic, and ginger and continue to saute on medium heat for another 4 minutes, until the mushrooms are soft. Add the carrots and bell peppers and cook for about 5 minutes more, until hot but still slightly crunchy. Remove from the heat.
When the bean threads are soft, drain them and cut into 3- to 4-inch lengths with scissors or a knife. Add them to the sauteed vegetables with the scallions, soy sauce, vinegar, tarragon, and basil. Stir to combine and set aside.
Moisten the rice-paper discs a few at a time at a time by immersing each one in a large shallow bowl (I used a pie plate) of warm water, transferring it to a clean towel, and laying it flat (I just laid them one at a time on a clean cutting board. It was pretty wet, but I just didn’t let them get completely soft before taking them out of the bath). Let them soften for a few minutes. Soften more as needed and as space permits.
Place about 1/3 cup of filling on the bottom half of a softened disc, fold over the sides, nd then roll up from the bottom, as tightly and gently as possible. Place seam side down on a platter and repeat with the rest of the filling and discs.
Serve with Hoisin Dipping Sauce (see below—or your own improvisational dipping sauce) and a sprinkling of peanuts.
Hoisin Dipping Sauce
(which I did not make)
1/4 c hoisin sauce
1 T water
2 T rice vinegar or lemon juice
1 t dark sesame oil
1/2 t Chinese chili paste (optional)
In a small bowl, whisk together all ingredients.