What could be more fun than eating a salad in a roll? A lot of children like to eat these even if they would never touch salad on a plate. For less adventurous eaters, make them with familiar items such as avocado, carrots, rice noodles and tofu. Add a fun dipping sauce and you have an easy way to sneak in more vegetables.
Older children love to make these, too. It’s a great way to involve them in making their own food and also a great slumber party activity. Place a variety of filling ingredients on the table and let them choose exactly how they will fill their rolls. I don’t stick to the traditional Vietnamese or Thai fillings. In our house, anything is fair game. Encourage children to use their imagination when thinking about fillings. We have used apple slices, hummus, cooked collard greens, pressed salad and blanched sugar snap peas. Serve these with a simple noodle dish or brothy soup and you have a meal. I have added a simple dipping sauce as well.
Fresh Salad Rolls
rice paper wrappers
large leaves of lettuce or nappa cabbage, washed and left whole (if you have a salad spinner use it to remove excess water)
baked tofu or tempeh, long slices not more than 3/4″ wide
carrot, finely or coarsely grated
1. Place about an inch or two of very warm water in a shallow dish. I like to use a dish big enough to fit my rice paper. Dip the rice paper in the water and leave until it just starts to get soft. Take it out of the water and lay flat on a thin clean towel. The towel helps soak up some of the extra moisture.
2. I like to arrange my ingredients on the bottom third of the rice paper. I use the lettuce as the base and then pile my other ingredients on top. Make sure you remove any thick stalks from the lettuce as they have a tendency to poke through the rice paper. The amount of filling you use will depend on the size of rice paper. I like my rolls to be pretty full.
3. Start rolling by bringing the bottom of the rice paper over the top of your ingredients. I roll it once before bringing in each side. When the sides are in, continue to roll until you get to the top end of the rice paper. As I roll I am making sure it is firm and snug. Be careful to not pull too tight, or the rice paper will tear.
Simple Dipping Sauce
1. Use equal parts shoyu (or gluten-free tamari) and water. Heat on the stove for about 7 minutes. Remove from heat.
2. Grate about 1 1/2 inches of fresh ginger with a ginger grater. Squeeze the juice into the shoyu.
You can also add:
Red pepper flakes, peanut butter, brown rice vinegar and garlic.
The simple version above is one that most children seem to like as long as the ginger flavor isn’t too strong. I use it for nori rolls as well.