Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Sandwich--Herbal Spring Rolls, Garlicky Green Beans, Apricot Triffle


Occasionally I find that my dinner plans do not suit my palate on a particular day and I decide to improvise. This keeps me from feeling trapped by my menus and adequately serves my impulsive creativity. It also allows me to take advantage of ingredients that I may have previously overlooked. Such was the case this afternoon as I contemplated my planned dinner of pasta with a light tomato-basil sauce. Certainly this would have been delectable, particularly on a warm summer evening; however, my son brought me a handful of chives and my plans changed. Chives, if you have never attempted to grow them, are one of the easiest and most tolerant herbs to grow. They survive very cold winters and return each spring with broader clumps and their characteristic purple pompom flowers.
When faced with chives I thought about rice paper spring rolls. These are the soft spring rolls that make an appearance on the menus of many Southeast Asian restaurant menus and which beautifully showcase fresh herbs. The technique is relatively simple, although you may turn out a messy roll or two at first, and the results are quite satisfying. I served these rolls with extra bean thread noodles (used in the rolls) tossed with hoisin sauce and sesame oil, garlicky green beans, melon, and cucumber onion refrigerator pickles. We had an apricot trifle for dessert. The oven was not engaged. My kitchen was cool. I love summer.
Fresh Herb Spring Rolls
Round rice paper spring roll wraps (translucent and brittle)
1 7.5 oz package bean thread or rice thread noodles, covered with boiling water and allowed to soften
8-12 oz protein of choice (I used thinly sliced, steamed tempeh, rubbed with hoisin and baked at 425-degrees until crisp)
1 handful of chives
1 stalk of basil, leaves cut into chiffonade (thin strips)
Hoisin or other thick Asian sauce (peanut sauce could be yummy)

Line a baking sheet with waxed paper. Fill a pie plate halfway with cool water and place a spring roll wrap in the water. Allow it to soften before removing it and placing it on your work surface. Add another rice paper wrap to the water. Place one chive, folded in half or thirds in the center of the wrap and add a couple of pieces of basil. Layer the protein on top of this and drizzle with the sauce. Layer a generous pinch of the noodles on top of this and fold the narrow ends of the wrap over the filling. Roll the longer sides over the middle filling to create a burrito shaped roll. Set it on the waxed paper. Repeat for as many as you would like to make. Cover with a damp cloth until it is time to serve to prevent the rolls from drying out.

VEGAN NOTES: This recipe is vegan. If you use peanut sauce be careful that it does not contain fish sauce, which is not vegan.
GLUTEN NOTES: This recipe appears to be gluten free but be careful with anything containing soy sauce (such as the hoisin sauce) because this contains wheat flour unless otherwise marked. You can purchase gluten-free soy sauce products online and maybe even in your local health-conscious grocery store.
Garlicky Green Beans
Green beans appeared at my farmers’ market and I was happy to see them. They are so much more pleasant when they are really fresh.
1 lb freshly trimmed green beans
1 Tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, pressed
Salt to taste

Blanch the green beans by placing them in a pot of cool water, bringing it to boil, boiling for about three to five minutes (until the beans are crisp-tender and bright green), and removing the beans to a bowl of ice to stop the cooking. Pour out the cooking water and add the olive oil to the pan. Allow the olive oil to become heated and add the garlic. Saute until the garlic is fragrant but not burned and remove it from the heat. Return the beans to the pan and toss to coat evenly. Sprinkle with salt. Refrigerate until serving.

VEGAN NOTES: This recipe is vegan.
GLUTEN NOTES: This recipe is gluten free.
Apricot Triffle
1 cup yogurt
¼ cup sugar
2 tsp almond extract
Left-over cake or biscuits, broken into bite-sized pieces and toasted
6-7 apricots, sliced and pitted
2-3 Tbsp sugar

Whisk to combine the yogurt, sugar, and almond extract in an 8-inch by 8-inch baking dish. Layer the cake over the yogurt. Combine the apricots and sugar and allow to macerate for approximately ten minutes. Pour the apricot syrup evenly over the cake and then spread the apricots evenly over all. Cover and chill until serving time.

VEGAN NOTES: Use non-dairy yogurt (such as soy, although taste before adding sugar as this yogurt tends to be sweet) and vegan cake or biscuits.
GLUTEN NOTES: Use gluten-freen cake or biscuits.

© Katherine C. Otterstrom, July 2012

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