with quick dipping sauce
Beautiful green and purple summer rolls that are light yet filling and so fun to eat! Packed with veggies, they're a great option for weight loss or maintenance. They also make striking party food! This recipe satisfies a whole food plant-based lifestyle and is oil-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, refined sugar-free, and vegan.
Summer rolls, aka fresh spring rolls, are one of my favorite things to eat in the summertime. Here are a few reasons why.
what we love about these summer rolls
The flavor combination of mint, basil, and cilantro seems to glow through the other ingredients. So. Good.
Sticking to two colors makes these fresh rolls stand out! I love a rainbow summer roll any day. These are just a little different and fun in their own way.
Summer rolls are rich in texture. A soft, malleable encasement envelops the various ingredients, from crisp onion to creamy avocado to chewy noodle.
They look complicated to make and can be really beautiful to look at. Actually, they can be as easy breezy as a handful of fresh ingredients wrapped up in rice paper wrappers.
The wrappers are like magic; they start out as hard, flat rounds that look like a plastic disc, but once soaked they transform into something so sticky and pliable that they completely mold to whatever they touch.
Summer rolls make great lunches, dinners, snacks, party food - even breakfast if you like to go savory veg first thing.
They're super fun for gatherings, hard to resist by even the veg-averse.
They are packable, so work well for lunch on the go - just keep them cool.
They're oil-free and light yet satisfying, ideal for weight loss or maintenance.
The dipping sauce is simple and delicious.
ingredients and substitutions
One of the great things about summer rolls is that they are so flexible, ingredient-wise. Prefer a particular ingredient? Then put a little more of it in and less of something else. It's all good. You really can't go wrong. In fact, after trying this recipe you may find yourself wrapping up just about anything in these fun and easy wrappers. These summer rolls are going with a green and purple theme, so try any purple or green substitute you like.
To best see the colors through the wrappers, use a white rice paper wrapper. Otherwise, the brown version can be used.
Any greens that you like raw and fresh will do here. Pictured here, I've used beautiful farmers market spinach.
Super thin noodles like cellophane, mung bean threads, or thin shirataki work best. I have used ramen noodles and they worked well, too. You can find these in Asian markets or in larger grocery stores with international sections. Pasta noodles have a different flavor that don't quite work as well.
Red onion really stands out beautifully and brings the purple in the color theme, so I wouldn't substitute for a different onion. Of course, if someone doesn't like onion, it can be omitted.
Purple cabbage is also important for that purple color, so I would stick to that variety.
Cucumber brings a nice crisp texture and the flavor goes so nicely with the herbs.
Tofu helps make these fillings while providing protein and other nutrients. I prefer the texture and flavor of a prepared savory or cutlet-style tofu for these rather than plain tofu blocks. If you can't find prepared at your grocer's, use a well drained extra-firm or super-firm block. Bake in a 400 F oven for 20 minutes or an air fryer for 10 minutes. Don't want the tofu? Although the tofu does bring satiety and texture, these are delicious without tofu, too.
Small green peppers like padron or shishito add a lot of flavor. Jalapeño could also work. Whichever you use, be sure to remove the seeds if you don't want it hot!
Avocado brings color and creaminess that is so valuable in these rolls. While you could go without, it's like having veggie sushi without avocado. I'll take the avocado!
Thai basil is the best to use here. If you don't have it though, you can't go wrong with any basil.
Mint is a key flavor in these summer rolls. Any variety will do - have fun trying different ones out.
Not everyone loves cilantro, so this is an optional ingredient. If you like it, do yourself a flavor favor and use it here!
For the dipping sauce: Ginger powder is easy, though fresh ginger can be used instead. Chili paste or chili garlic sauce can be used. Either maple or date syrup provide a sweet balance. Tamari, soy sauce (not if needing gluten-free), or coconut aminos bring the salt. Lime juice adds zip and flavor. I think it's worth taking a moment to add the lime zest, but you don't have to. Sesame seeds are nice but not a must. I like the black but either color works. We're going for easy and delicious here.
As the name suggests, these cute little bundles are best made in the spring and summer, when beautiful fresh ingredients are available. Make them while you can!
First, wet your work surface, such as a cutting board that's at least as big as the wrapper. Keeping surfaces damp helps avoid the rice paper wrapper sticking. Fill a pie plate with water and dip a wrapper in until it's completely wet. Lay it on the damp cutting board. The wrapper should be soft by the time you've filled it.
The key to having beautiful summer rolls is to fill them enough while avoiding overstuffing them. Since we're using a variety of ingredients, just a bit of each is all you need in the front ⅓ of each wrapper.
The bottom ingredients will be the most visible once rolled, so consider how you'd like them to look. For this reason, I like placing "rainbows" of red onion on the wrapper first, followed by pretty greens or herbs, as pictured.
Once filled, carefully fold the wrapper over the two ends of the filling, then carefully stretch one long end of wrapper up and over the filling and roll. Place the finished roll on a damp platter or on wax/parchment paper on a countertop.
Repeat with the next one, being careful to not have the finished summer rolls stick to each other on the platter.
Yes, it does take some time to roll all 18 summer rolls. This isn't my usual done-within-30-minutes recipe. I find it fun work, though, just not something I'd do during a busy work week - unless I need a good meditative, relaxing project. Great for that! If you'd like the process to go faster, recruit a "roller" or two. I find it's not hard to do, and makes it extra fun!
Summer rolls are best served right away. That said, they generally keep well for a day or two in the refrigerator. They tend to stick together, so try storing them with dividers of some sort, such as parchment. That said, they should separate if you slowly pull them apart.
more party food ideas
Green and Purple Summer Rolls Recipe
- pie plate
- work surface bigger than the wrapper that can get damp
- platter or parchment, or silicone sheet
- 18 rice paper wrappers large, at least 8.25 inch
- ½ cup red onion shaved in half moons
- 3 cups spinach or greens of choice, kept whole unless large (if large, tear into medium-sized pieces)
- 1 cup purple cabbage thinly sliced
- 1 cup tofu cutlet or steamed or savory flavored, cut into long matchsticks. Xtra or super firm tofu ok.
- 1 lime wedge optional
- 1 avocado thinly sliced and sprinkled with lime juice from the wedge to keep from browning
- ½ cup cucumber cut into matchsticks, seeds removed optional
- ¼ cup shishito peppers or padron or jalapeño, about 5-6 seeded and cut into matchsticks
- 2 cellophane noodle bundles mung bean threads, shirataki, or other super thin noodles
- ¾ cup mint leaves any variety
- ¾ cup cilantro
- ¾ cup Thai basil or other basil, small stems or leaves
- ¼ teaspoon ginger powder or 2 teaspoons fresh minced ginger
- 1 teaspoon chili paste or chili garlic sauce
- 2 teaspoons maple syrup or date syrup
- 3 tablespoons coconut aminos or tamari
- 1 lime zest (optional)
- 3 tablespoons lime juice
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds toasted
- Prep: Wash and dry the fresh ingredients. Place the cellophane noodles in a bowl and pour hot water over them to cover ( I usually use a teakettle for this). Prep the remaining ingredients.
- Sauce: Make the dipping sauce by combining all the dipping sauce ingredients in a small bowl.
- Dip: Fill a pie plate or wide bowl with water. Wet your work surface (your counter or cutting board). This will keep your summer rolls from sticking to the surface. Dunk a rice paper wrapper into the water. If your pie plate/bow isn't wide enough, start by tipping the top of the round in and make sure the entire round becomes drenched. Lay it flat onto the dampened work surface. By the time you finish filling it, it will be very soft.
- Fill: Add the filling ingredients one by one onto the first ⅓ of your rice paper wrapper. Start with three red onion half moons so that you see them on top once the summer roll is completed. I like to then add a couple leaves of basil and mint followed by a couple stems of cilantro. Shorter ingredients, like basil and cilantro, should be placed end to end so that each ingredient covers the red onion area. Then a few shreds of purple cabbage followed by a couple leaves of greens, then a few pepper slices, then a couple cucumber matchsticks, then a couple tofu matchsticks, and finally a pinch of noodles. A pinch is still quite a bit, so swing the threads up and down and swirl them around so that they stay in the center, covering the other ingredients, without spilling to the empty space around the wrapper.
- Fold & roll: Carefully, fold each side over the ends of the filling. Then, lifting one end of the wrapper with both hands, pull the end over the ingredients. Finally, roll the folded wrapper and ingredients to finish.
- Place each finished summer roll on a damp platter or parchment paper. If they touch they will stick together but can be gently pulled apart.
- Serve with the dipping sauce. Slice each in half, if desired. These are at their best when they're freshly made. They can be stored in the refrigerator, however, for use the next day - they make a wonderful lunch!