Sunday, October 3, 2010
Vacation is over. The Grind has been revisited and will continue to be the mode of living through mid-December. If I'm lucky, I'll be able to share recipes and ideas here once a week or so, and if I'm even luckier, my transcript will be overloaded with 4.0's. Wouldn't that be grand.
The first week back to classes and work was a doozy. It borders on madness in the hallways between classes as students attempt to navigate their way to the next session of powerpoint and lecture. My two classes on campus are geographically as far from one another as they can be on our little campus, and I have just ten minutes to rush down four flights of stairs, power-walk to the building next door, and book-it up another four flights to get to my second class. A bathroom pit stop is out of the question. The door to class #2 is locked promptly at 11 am. Be there, or be square.
With the onslaught of my school schedule comes the necessity for quick, easy meals. Lunches must be packed and dinners must be relatively hurried affairs. No more 3 hour sagas of meal prep in the evenings for awhile, so I've been busting out my repertoire of simple, healthy (gotta keep that immune system up, what with flu-season rapidly approaching) recipes. Fresh rolls (sometimes called 'summer rolls') have become my new favorite thing. I guess I'm reluctant to give up on summertime. I want to savor the last of the lettuce, cucumber, and warm-weather herbs while I can.
Fresh Rolls (aka Summer Rolls)
makes 6 rolls
1 handful thin rice noodles, cooked and drained
1/2 a medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into matchsticks
1 handful each, fresh basil and cilantro leaves, chopped finely
1 small head leaf lettuce, washed and roughly torn
6 summer roll wrappers (found at some grocery stores and most Asian markets)
sweet chili sauce (or other sauce) for dipping
Begin by laying out all of the ingredients on your work surface. You'll want to have everything within reach once you begin assembling your rolls.
Fill a large bowl with warm water, and place 1 wrapper in the bowl, pushing down to submerge it in the water. Allow it to sit in the water for about a minute. The wrapper will become increasingly soft and pliable as is soaks. When it is semi-transparent and very soft, gently remove it from the bowl of water, and place it on a cutting board. Make sure it is completely flat, and be careful, these things tear easily.
Grab a small amount of rice noodles and arrange them in an oblong sort of shape lengthwise across the bottom third of the wrapper.
Place a few cucumber matchsticks on top of the noodles, and then sprinkle with some of the basil and cilantro. Take a small handful of lettuce leaves and place them on top of the herbs.
While holding the pile of fillings in place with one hand, take one side (either the right or left) of the wrapper and fold it over the filling. Repeat with the other side. Now, starting with the side closest to you, fold the edge up over the filling and roll away from your body.
I know that when working with a circle it may be difficult to image a "side", but imagine that the circle is sitting within a square with one of it's edges resting against your waistline.
Repeat the filling and rolling process with the remaining ingredients. Serve with sweet chili sauce on the side.
Any leftover rolls should be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap to keep the airflow to a minimum and stored in the fridge. Be sure to eat them within a day or two, as the wrapper tends to get tough with time.
Don't worry if your rolls look ghetto, they'll get prettier with practice. The important thing is the flavor of fresh lettuce and herbs in your mouth, the wrapper is merely a means to that end.