We're amidst a bit of a heat wave here in Boston, and despite the fact that we have yet to install our air conditioners, I'm still filled with joy over the change in season after a very long winter.
With the heat comes a positive shift towards spending as much time as possible outside - grounding feet against the grassy earth and taking full inhalations of every blooming tree and flower as they ripen in our neighborhood, allowing ourselves to get fully intoxicated by the earth, in bloom. We've also been squeezing out every minute of daylight, only to head indoors at a final glimpse of the pink and gold sky.
This weather also has me craving cold foods, liquids and little else. While woman cannot subsist on smoothies alone, salads and bowls for every meal can get old fast. Enter the new favorite bite in our household: homemade summer rolls. Filled with fresh vegetables and paired with a delicious spicy peanut dipping sauce, we totally ate these for three days straight this week.
Summer rolls pack delicious flavor for something so quick and easy to make (you can whip up a batch in twenty minutes flat). They are a nice way to get an abundance of raw vegetables and herbs, which are naturally hydrating on hot days and add a nice crunch. Speaking of the crunch factor, feel free to mix in whatever vegetables you have on hand. Some favorites to include are peppers (bell and jalapeno), cucumbers, carrots, and some good leafy greens like spinach or kale. You can also add in simple lean protein, such as shrimp, chicken or egg, to help sustain energy.
My suggestion? One evening this week, whip up a half-dozen rolls, pack them between parchment and bring to the park, along with a vat of the spicy peanut sauce. While this summer weather may be temporary, it's a sign of what's to come. Spring is still full in her breezy splendor. Enjoy as much time outside as possible and soak up that natural air.
(Makes 4 small rolls)
1/2 cucumber, sliced into thin 2-inch strips
2 carrots, sliced into thin 2-inch matchsticks
1/2 avocado, sliced into small wedges
1 jalapeno, sliced into thin circles (seeds in or out, depending on preference)
1 scallion, sliced into rings
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, stems removed
4 rice paper sheets (I prefer brown rice paper, and use these)
For summer rolls, first make a clean surface. Soak one rice paper round in warm water, until slightly soft (about 20-30 seconds), and transfer to surface. Arrange 1/4th of each of the vegetables neatly towards middle and left half of the sheet, leaving a one-inch border along edge. Roll up rice paper tightly around filling and fold in sides and continue rolling. Transfer summer roll to a plate and cover with damp paper towels.
For Spicy Peanut Sauce:
1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter
1/2 tablespoon tamari (low sodium) or soy sauce
1/2 tablespoon mirin sauce
1/2 tablespoon lime juice
1/4 tablespoon red pepper flakes (to taste)
1/2 tablespoon sliced scallions
Combine first four ingredients in a bowl, and whisky until creamy. Add more liquid or peanut butter, depending on consistency. Mixture should be smooth and easy to pour. Top with red pepper flakes and sliced scallions and serve in a small dipping bowl.