I often make rice paper rolls, also known as fresh spring rolls. Mainly because my kids absolutely love them and they are a quick, easy and healthy lunch box filler or snack. I also find them a great way to use up leftovers. They replace the humble sandwich which is great for moderating the amount of wheat consumed and offer a little lunch box variety. The best thing is that they wrap up salads and other bits and pieces into very convenient little packages that kids just love.
The rice paper ‘sheets’ are available to buy in the Asian section of most supermarkets and are very simple to roll. I normally set up a bit of a production line with the meat cut into smallish pieces in one bowl and the salad mix in another, dressed and ready to place on the rice paper as it softens.
How to make them:
To create a really nourishing meal or snack, you need to build a rice paper roll with a little protein and some sort of vegetable or salad. It’s best to grate, shred or thinly slice (julienne) the salad and vegetables. I also always mix in a little juice of a lemon or lime to keep the salad fresh and also this adds a lovely flavour so they don’t need a dipping sauce.
- Start by running slightly warm water over both sides of the rice paper. As you feel it start to soften, place it on a wet board or bench top, add the filling and roll.
- The paper goes sticky as it sits so get rolling quickly. There are rolling instructions on the packet, but I generally place the filling towards the top of the paper (2 good heaped tablespoons), fold down the top edge, followed by the sides and then roll it downwards towards me. You may have some funny shaped ones to start with but you’ll soon get the knack.
So I thought I’d share some of the ways I fill them, especially for a lunch box where dipping sauces aren’t practical. As much as I absolutely LOVE traditional combinations with lots of Vietnamese mint and Thai basil in the mix, you don’t necessarily need to follow tradition. You can fill them with…
- Leftover Asian lettuce cup mince with extra sprouts, shredded cabbage or lettuce and the juice of a lime.
- Tuna, diced chicken or chopped up boiled eggs mixed with pesto and grated carrot (or any other vegetable or salad). Try it with my Coriander, lime pesto.
- Diced chicken or tuna, shredded nori (sushi) paper and salad or sprouts tossed in a little mayonnaise and lemon juice.
- Diced leftover sausage or meat patties and shredded or grated salad dressed in a little lemon juice.
- Leftover potato salad or coleslaw with diced chicken or tuna.
- Any leftover quinoa, rice or noodle dish, salad and lemon juice.
- Leftover omelette or frittata with salad and lemon juice (obviously no good for egg-free peeps).
- Haloumi and salad dressed with lemon juice (a good vegetarian option).
- Chickpeas or cannellini beans marinated in lime juice and a little cumin and cinnamon powder, with salad, sprouts or coleslaw (obviously no good for legume-free).
When placed side by side in a lunchbox, they can stick together a little. My kids don’t have too much problem prying them apart. But if your kids do, you can wedge a slice of apple or a piece of baking paper between them to stop them sticking together.
For more delicious, nourishing recipes to pack a healthy school lunchbox, check out my ebook ‘The Well Nourished Lunchbox’ – 150 pages of lunchbox inspiration.