Take advantage of the season’s fresh produce with this colorful Vietnamese Spring Rolls recipe—sweet, buttery papaya noodles take the place of traditional rice noodles for a nutrient boost, alongside a rainbow of other fresh veggies, like cucumber, cabbage, peppers, and herbs. Dip into a Spicy Peanut Sauce for an addictive finish!
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It’s Monday…but instead of inserting all kinds of melodramatic jokes here about how Monday’s suck and they’re the worst day of the week and send help and send coffee and…you get it. I’m not going to do that.
Instead, I’m going to fill your screen with a beautiful, colorful rainbow recipe that will brighten whatever kind of Monday (or any day of the week) you may be having!
It’s time for Vietnamese Spring Rolls, and this fresh and healthy recipe is so freakin’ delicious and good for you, so cheery and fun and interactive that you’ll want to throw a dinner party just so you can gather your friends around the table with all these gorgeous veggies and wrap up spring rolls together.
That’s how I was first introduced to spring rolls–one of my college roommates made them for “family dinner” one night, and we all sat around the table filling our rice paper wrappers with whatever veggies and meats we wanted, and it was one of the most fun and memorable meals I’ve ever had.
I now love to order make-your-own spring rolls when I’m at Vietnamese restaurants–the kind where they just bring you heaping plates full of lettuces and herbs and sprouts and veggies and they have the most addicting dipping sauces and I basically just squeal with delight the entire meal.
I felt the same way when Matt and I traveled to Hanoi, Vietnam for our anniversary and discovered that the DIY spring rolls I’ve come to know and love in America are actually super authentic to how they really eat them in Vietnam (I love it when that happens!).
So, are you ready? Let’s do this!
There’s zero cooking involved in this recipe, though you’ll likely spend half an hour or so in the kitchen chopping and slicing and julienning everything to get it ready.
Traditionally, Vietnamese spring rolls are made with fresh herbs, lettuce, cucumbers, and often cooked pork or shrimp (you can totally add that to this recipe if you want more protein, but I just love the look and freshness of the vegetarian rolls).
Spring rolls, called gỏi cuốn, are often usually filled with rice vermicelli noodles. But to up the nutrient ante for this recipe, I’m swapped in papaya noodles. We’ll get to that part in a minute.
As always, the veggies get wrapped up in a moistened rice paper wrapper (sometimes called spring roll skin) and then dipped in the most delicious peanut sauce.
Typically, spring rolls are dipped either in a hoisin sauce made with peanut butter or a light and tangy fish sauce made with lime juice, garlic and chiles. Since I love both sauces so much, I thought, why not combine my favorite aspects of each into one sauce that’s both tangy from the fish sauce and lime juice, creamy from the peanut butter and spicy with sriracha? The result: MIND BLOWING!
Of, course these rolls are fresh, not fried (like an egg roll and certain spring rolls), so they’re super light and healthy. Sometimes they’re called summer rolls (basically just to indicate that they’re not fried), but whatever you call them, you’ll want to make them for dinner ASAP.
Not sure how?
how to make spring rolls
Don’t worry–I know it can be intimidating at first, but making spring rolls is actually super easy.
You simply moisten your rice paper wrapper with warm water (just fill a glass bowl with warm water and rotate your wrapper in the water to soften all sides), lay it on a flat surface and then add your fillings. Roll it all up like it’s a burrito, and there you have it!
I actually filmed a tutorial for a local magazine at my favorite Vietnamese restaurant in Atlanta that might help, as well.
Health Benefits of Papaya
Ok so, I mentioned that I swapped the traditional vermicelli noodles for papaya noodles. Zoodles have been pretty trendy for a while and though I can’t say that I’d always prefer spiralized zucchini to real pasta, I do think that certain preps work really well.
These papaya noodles being one of my favorites. If you have a spiralizer, great! That will make quick work of this.
But if you don’t want to shell out the $$ for one, or take up the space in your cabinet with yet another device, you can also use a julienne peeler and simply strip the papaya down into noodle-like pieces. I used this julienne peeler from Williams-Sonoma to make my papaya noodles.
When you first buy a papaya, it can be a little unclear how to cut it. But just take a sharp chef’s knife, split it in half like you would a butternut squash (it’s much softer than that) and scrape out those weird little seeds (doesn’t it look exactly like salmon lox and capers??). Then use a vegetable peeler or your knife to remove the skin and you’re good to go!
So why papaya?
Bursting with Vitamin C, folate, fiber and Vitamin A, papaya is a sweet, buttery tropical fruit rich in antioxidants, minerals and nutrients that are incredibly anti-inflammatory, immunity-boosting and have been proven to promote heart health and protect us against colon cancer.
Papaya also contains the digestive enzyme, papain, which not only helps us digest protein, but is also used to treat sports injuries, other causes of trauma, and allergies. (source)
They add such a fresh, exotic flavor to these spring rolls!
Though papaya used to be hard to find, high-quality grocery stores, like Sprouts, now carry papaya nearly year round. It’s one of the reasons I love shopping at Sprouts–their variety of fresh, quality and interesting produce is amazing and I’m always finding new ingredients to try!
The beauty of spring rolls is that they’re totally customizable to your tastes, so use this recipe as a guideline, but feel free to add whatever fruits and vegetables or meats you’d like.
If you make this recipe, be sure to snap a photo and share it with me on social media. I’m @rootandrevel and would LOVE to see it!
Rainbow Spring Rolls with Papaya Noodles + Spicy Peanut Sauce
These healthy Rainbow Spring Rolls with a spicy Vietnamese peanut sauce are a colorful vegetarian recipe perfect for Spring's fresh veggie bounty.
- 1 papaya, peeled, seeds removed and spiralized or cut with julienne slicer
- 1 large seedless cucumber, spiralized or cut with julienne slicer
- 2 cups shredded purple cabbage
- 1 cup broccoli sprouts
- 1 avocado, sliced
- 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
- 1 cup mixed chopped herbs (recommended basil, mint and cilantro)
- 12 organic rice paper wrappers
- 2 tablespoons peanut butter (recommended Sprouts brand)
- 1/4 cup organic tamari (gluten-free soy sauce)
- 1 tablepoon fish sauce
- 1/2 lime juiced
- 1 tablespoon sriracha (recommended Sprouts brand)
Spiralize, julienne and slice all vegetables (papaya through red bell pepper) and chop all herbs.
Add warm water to a large glass bowl. Lightly dip rice paper wrappers (one at a time) into the water until they become soft and pliable. Lay on a flat work surface. Add vegetables to the center of the wrapper (if you want to make a rainbow, start with red peppers at the top, followed by papaya noodles, cucumber noodles and purple cabbage). Top with sprouts, avocado and herbs. Fold the edges of the rice paper wrapper together and then roll up like a burrito. Set aside and repeat until all spring rolls are made.
Meanwhile, to make the dipping sauce add peanut butter, tamari, fish sauce, lime juice and sriracha to a food processor or blender, and pulse until smooth. Pour into a small bowl and dip spring rolls into the dip. Enjoy!
If you have leftover veggies, you can make more spring rolls or you can combine everything into one large bowl, top with the sauce and make a spring roll salad.
**You can buy rice paper wrappers online or at Sprouts. Though white rice paper wrappers make for prettier spring rolls, I also love using brown rice paper wrappers for added nutrition.
**If you'd like to make this entire recipe 100% vegan/vegetarian, you can swap the fish sauce for lime juice.
**Note: Nutrition Information does not include broccoli sprouts and rice paper wrappers.
Photo Credit: Heidi Geldhauser
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