Salad rolls and spicy thai peanut sauce
When I first met my now husband, I was back in school for a post graduate certificate diploma thingie. Being the brilliant person I am, and being in the desperate situation I was in of hating my job and feeling increasingly trapped and depressed by it, I took the first out I could see: My friend had taken a program at Sheridan College and said I'd like it, so I quit my job and went back to school. Of course, I didn't feel a need to stop and think about the fact that I live in Toronto, a city with many colleges, and thus probably didn't need to choose one all the way in Oakville...But, like I said, I was desperate, am incredibly sketchy like that and thus didn't even consider the whole matter...that is until I realized I would be waking up every day at 5a.m. to get there by 8...And that, given this lovely commute, I wouldn't be home until the evening...at which point I'd only have a couple of hours before my 10:30 bedtime (necessary when you're getting up at 5 in the morning). As a result of this situation I had ended up in, food was more of a matter of necessity then a place for creativity and experimentation. All this to say that I ate a lot of salad. And by salad I mean green lettuce with some kidney beans and balsamic and olive oil (poured direct, not premixed in any sort of fancy ratio) thrown in there.
Now, I don't mean to knock this incredibly lazy man's "salad", it and I are good friends after all we've been through...But, my husband certainly knocks it. "It's not a SALAD if it's only one thing! What you're eating is just LETTUCE!" Details... Anyway, when we started eating together in those early days, he was not having any of it. So, a man who never made salad in his life before (heck, a man who'd never cooked before), he excelled in the art of it.
I also introduced him to other forms and possibilities of cooking - stir fries, curries, pasta. However, since my recent reinspiration within the culinary arts, he's gone back to helping out more on the prep side than the actual cooking side. He's still great at occasionally taking on the cooking - particularly when it becomes evident to him that I'm leaning toward a refreshing dish of "lettuce". In these times he goes to his brand of fancified salad or one other dish I introduced him to that he took a shining to like nothing I've ever seen. Surprising to me given the somewhat time consuming nature of the dish...A dish I've loved since my mom first made them, I am always quite happy that it's one he loves making: SALAD ROLLS!!!
rice paper wrappers, large size, round
1/2 lime, juiced
cucumber (about 1/2 of one of the long ones), thickly julianned
2 avocados, sliced lengthwise
1/2 brick of tofu, julianned
green onions, thinly sliced
sesame seeds (optional)
tomatoes (optional, he never puts them in but I think they're a nice addition on occasion)
In a pan, put the tofu and green beans with a bit of oil. Stirfry until the tofu is golden and a little crunchy on the outside and the green beans are tender, but still have some crunch to them. I find this is most successfully accomplished by putting in the tofu first and then about 5 or so minutes later putting in the beans.
Toss the avocados with the lime juice to prevent browning. Or, just squeeze the lime juice over all the sliced items.
Fill a pie pan, large bowl, or anything that will fit the rice paper wrapper easily, with hot water and set next to where you'll be making the actual rolls. You'll want the water to not be so hot that it's uncomfortable to put your hands in, but you'll want it to be pretty hot - it'll help make the wrappers rollable more quickly.
Assembling the rolls
Soak a wrapper in the hot water until it's soft. Put it on a plate and, close to the side nearest you, place the lettuce and then on it, an assortment of the other items except the sesame seeds. Sprinkly sesame seeds along the length of the fillings, if using. Roll the paper, bringing the sides in as you roll - like a tortilla!
You can make them all the same, or have different assortments of fillings in each.
It's helpful to have a separate plate nearby to put the finished rolls on.
Serve with the spicy thai peanut sauce and enjoy! If for some astounding reason you have leftovers, make sure you store in an airtight container, otherwise the wrapper gets all hard and gross and you have to rewrap it.
spicy thai peanut sauce
1/4c peanut butter (all natural, not the gross hydrogenated-icing-sugar-full kind)
1.5 tbsp tamari (or soya sauce if you can have gluten)
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp rice vinegar (do yourself a favour an don't make the mistake of buying the seasoned one - ick.)
cayenne pepper or hot sauce to taste
stir together until smooth and creamy.