A few weeks ago, my refrigerator was about half full of cucumbers. Pickling cucumbers and regular cucumbers– the CSA was sending them in bulk, and boy was I sad about them. I wasn’t in the mood for tzatziki, salads just don’t excite me, and I might be a relatively new fan of pickles, but that applies to pickled onions, radishes, green beans, and jalapenos, not your average cucumber. I suppose the only thing left to consider was drinking a ton of cucumber gin martinis.
Except for one thing: cucumber garnishes will not get you far in consuming 16 cucumbers… oh, and I suppose that this would be bad on our livers. Luckily, a friend who also gets CSA shares from the same farm, mentioned that she was planning on making summer rolls for our get together. Summer rolls! Genius!
I decided to try making some of my own. After all, we had plenty of other summer roll ingredients from the CSA including cilantro, lettuce, and carrots. It’s like summer rolls were my CSA destiny.
For my summer rolls, I decided to add some protein with some marinated, baked tofu. Similar to the tofu I’ve used in banh mi, this one had an added kick thanks to a little yellow curry powder and five spice powder. For a touch of sweetness, not to mention some more bright colors, I added strips of mango and some mint and Thai basil leaves from our garden. Julienned serrano peppers added an underlying heat.
With all those ingredients were rolled up in the soft, slightly chewy rice paper, this was a perfect little package. Crunchy vegetables and so cool and refreshing while prickling with heat and spice from the marinated tofu and serrano pepper. Thanks Michelle for the inspiration!
Note: You can put anything you want in a summer roll, be it grilled meats, soft rice noodles, shrimp, etc.– all of those would be delicious with these neutral and sweet vegetables. I ended up with a total of 8 rolls, which you could cut in half and feed up to 16 people. Tired of rolling them up on your own? This can be a fast and light supper if you lay out the ingredients and let your guests roll up their own picking and choosing ingredients of their choice. For dipping sauce, I mixed together sweet Thai chili sauce with some Vietnamese hot sauce. Alternatively, you could dip these in peanut sauce or a mix of vegetarian hoisin sauce and peanut butter.
- 16 oz firm tofu, pressed between weighted plates to drain of excess water
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 tablespoon Tamari soy sauce
- 1 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon curry powder
- 1/2 teaspoon Asian Five Spice powder
- 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
- 2 smashed garlic cloves
- salt and pepper
- cooking spray
- 8 lettuce leaves
- 1 medium orange carrot, peeled and julienned
- 1 medium mango, peeled and julienned
- 2 serrano peppers, julienned
- 1 large cucumber, peeled and julienned
- 1/4 cup each: fresh cilantro, mint, and Thai basil leaves, roughly chopped
- 8 rice paper wrappers plus water for soaking
In a baking dish or large ziplock bag, add the canola oil, soy sauce, sesame oil, syrup, curry powder, five spice powder, ground coriander, smashed garlic, and about 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper. Cut the tofu into 1/2 inch thick rectangles and add to the marinade. Let this sit at room temperature for about 30-40 minutes, agitating every now and then to make sure that all the tofu pieces are coated.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Spray the foil with cooking spray. Add tofu in a single layer and bake for a total of 30-40 minutes, or until tofu is brown and crisp at edges, flipping tofu pieces over half way through cooking time. Let tofu cool while you cut your vegetables. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.
Soak rice paper sheets according to package directions– mine said to submerge a single sheet at a time in lukewarm water for 30 seconds, but I found that it took more like 1 to 1.5 minutes before they were truly pliable. When your rice wrapper is ready, lay down a lettuce leaf on top of the sheet. Top with a couple of pieces each of the mango, cucumber, carrot, serrano pepper and cooked tofu. Place a small pile of basil, cilantro, and mint on top, then fold in the sides and roll from the bottom up. Cut on a bias in half and serve with dipping sauce of your choice.
CSA Count: 4
Lettuce, carrot, cucumber, cilantro
Garden Count: 2
Thai basil, mint