Spring rolls!

Everyone in my office is watching their weight, so when we planned out latest potluck, I had a hard time thinking of something portable, healthy and delicious.  I came across this recipe on thekitchn.com for Vietnamese Spring Rolls and decided to make some for my coworkers to indulge in without feeling guilty.  They were instantly a hit among my fellow office peeps.  Check out the link for the recipe.  Below are some of the photos I took of the process and some tips on getting those sticky wrappers to roll up pretty easily. 

I love all the colorful veggies that go into these.  As for my prep, I cut the cucumber and carrot into little sticks.  Slice thinly the radish.  I like to separate the various greens.  The recipe linked above includes red bell pepper, but I opted not to use it.  I added Thai basil leaves and Romaine leaves with the ribs removed.

spring 1

To marinate/season the veggies, you will use 1 part rice vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, and 2 parts fish sauce to make up the seasoning for the carrots, radish and cucumber. 

spring 2

There was a pretty big selection of noodles at my local shop.  I picked these noodles based on their cool packaging.  Noodles will be placed into hot water for several minutes to soften. 

spring 4

I got too excited and forgot to take a photo of the rice paper wrappers.  They are hard, translucent, thin discs, which soften in hot water after a few seconds.  Only place the wrappers in the water one at a time, otherwise they will stick together and are difficult to separate.

Once the wrappers are softened, lay the wrapper gently onto a cutting board.  If the wrapper sticks to itself, dip into the warm water for a moment and it will unstick.  Start piling your fillings as close to the bottom edge as possible.  Begin with the lettuce leaf, then the veggies, noodles and finally the herbs. 

spring 8

Start rolling the wrapper around the filling, tucking with your fingers as you go, to get it as tight as possible.  Roll twice over the filling, then fold the two ends over and you will have something that looks like this:

spring 10

Keep rolling and one is done.  Place the finished rolls on a moist towel to keep them from drying out.  I made these vegetarian, but you can add cooked shrimp, shredded pork or chicken.  Accompany with spicy peanut sauce.

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Zucchini Fritters

And now for some veggie comfort food.  There are few things I like more as part of a weekend brunch or snack than zucchini fritters.  I made these one day while trying to figure out how to get my hubby to like squash (my favorite vegetable).  He liked them the first time I made them and the recipe has evolved and improved over time.   These are light and crisp and so reminiscent of a leisurely summer day.  I hope you enjoy them as much as we do.

Zucchini Fritters

3 Medium size zucchinis, grated

1 Small white or yellow onion, grated

2 Scallions, sliced

1 heaping tsp Kosher salt, plus some to sprinkle

Ground black pepper

2 Large eggs, whites and yolks separated

1/2 cup + 1 tbsp All purpose flour

Canola oil

Sour cream

Cilantro

Heat oil in a skillet or deep fryer to 360 degrees.  Toss the zucchini and onion with 1 heaping teaspoon of salt. Placed the salted zucchini and onion mixture in a colander lined with several paper towels to absorb excess moisture.  Leave the mixture in the colander for about 15 minutes.  Remove as much moisture from the zucchini and onion as possible by squeezing with paper towels after they have drained in the colander.

This is my favorite setup when draining the zucchini and onion. All the excess liquid drains down into the plate.

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form.  In a large bowl, combine egg yolks, the zucchini and onion mixture, flour, scallions, and about 1/4 tsp of pepper.  Gently fold the egg whites into the mixture.  Mixture should resemble a thick pancake batter.  If the mixture is too wet, add more flour a tablespoon at a time until the desired consistency is achieved.

Cook fritters in several batches, as to better regulate the heat of the oil.  Drop about 2 tbsp of batter at a time into the oil.  Flatten each mound of batter slightly. Fry the batter for about 3 minutes per side.  Transfer to a plate lined with paper towel to drain.  Sprinkle lightly with salt.  Repeat with remaining batter.  Serve hot or cold with sour cream or labneh and sprinkle with cilantro leaves.

Asparagus Broccoli Potato Soup

With the scorching hot summer days, all I have been thinking about for the past few weeks is the start of autumn. Today we had cooler temperatures and I even got to see a little rain, so I couldn’t resist filling my house with the aroma of a delicious soup.  This simple soup is super healthy and low in calories, as well as a beautiful hue of green to compliment the gray sky.

Asparagus Broccoli Potato Soup

2 bunches broccoli with stems, chopped

1 lb asparagus, chopped

10-12 Yukon gold baby potatoes, split in half

1/2 c.  onion, chopped

1-2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 tsp. black pepper

1/4 tsp. cumin

1/4 tsp. thyme

1.4 tsp. nutmeg

2 c. low sodium vegetable broth

2 c. water

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 tbsp. flour

1/2 c. nonfat milk

Boil together water, broth, broccoli, asparagus, potatoes and onion until tender.

Let cool slightly. Puree in blender in small batches, being careful to hold the blender lid with a kitchen towel.  Set aside.

In a saucepan, add olive oil over low heat.  Whisk in flour until completely dissolved, stirring constantly.  Slowly stir in milk and continue to whisk for 2 minutes or until
smooth. Add garlic and spices, then stir in pureed veggie mixture and let cook on medium for 5-10 more minutes.

I topped mine with chopped chives and a little lemon zest.  Some grated cheddar and even bacon crumbles, all paired with a good, crusty, toasty bread would also be excellent.