summer rolls with vegetablesSummer rolls (also known as fresh spring rolls, salad rolls, rice paper rolls, or veg rolls) are such a versatile food. They are essentially a blank canvas you can fill with whatever you’re in the mood for – vegetables, herbs, tofu… they are refreshing, light, crunchy, and so colorful. This recipe is vegan (dairy-free, egg,-free), gluten-free, soy-free, nut-free, and refined sugar-free.

Before we dive into the summer rolls recipe, let’s talk about the difference between spring rolls and summer rolls. 

Spring Rolls

Spring rolls are of a Chinese origin. They were first made for Chinese New Year banquets and stacked to look like bars of gold. The name is linked to lunar calendar – the New Year marked the start of spring.

Spring rolls have have a shell made from flour and water, which turns crispy when fried. The filling usually includes a combination of mushrooms, bean sprouts, cabbage, chilis and garlic. The filling does vary from region to region though – Hong Kong typically features pork and bean sprouts while most mainland China prefers a vegetarian version.

Spring rolls typically come with a side of vinegar (for the Shanghainese versions) or plum sauce, sweet and sour sauce, and/or a Worcestershire-based dipping sauce (for the Cantonese versions). 

Summer Rolls

Summer rolls are Vietnamese in origin. Unlike their spring roll cousins, they’re fresh and salad-y—which is why they are also occasionally called fresh spring rolls or salad rolls. 

Summer rolls consist of a transparent rice paper wrapper filled with an assortment of julienned vegetables, fresh herbs, vermicelli noodles, and tofu or shrimp. These rolls are usually served with a peanut sauce, hoisin sauce or sriracha sauce for dipping.

fresh spring rolls with vegetables

Tips for Making Summer Rolls

Ingredients

While the ingredient list for these summer rolls recipe is quite long, don’t let it intimidate you. It’s mostly vegetables and fresh herbs.

  • Rice paper: depending on where you shop, you may see rice paper made from white rice or brown rice; large or small; round, square, or triangular. The most widely available rice paper is made from white rice and comes in an 8 ½”/21.5 cm circles. It’s the easiest to manipulate, and most recipes use that size. Smaller circles and triangles are more difficult to work with; larger circles are meant for long rolls that are cut up into smaller pieces. As far as ingredients go, rice paper should only contain rice, water, and salt. That’s it. Avoid super thin all-tapioca starch paper. It lacks flavor, tears easily, and becomes limp quickly.
  • Vegetables: you can use a variety of vegetables to make summer rolls. Ideally, it would be a mix of crunchy and soft vegetables for a textural variety. Some of my favorite vegetables include Romain lettuce. carrots, cucumbers, daikon, bell peppers, cabbage, and bean sprouts. 
  • Herbs: fresh herbs add so much flavor to these summer rolls. I tend to use basil, mint, and spring onions, but other herbs, such as cilantro, coriander, or perilla would work great too. 
  • Vermicelli noodles (optional): if you prefer summer rolls that are more filling, you can also use vermicelli noodles. They are totally optional in case you want to add body to the veg rolls. 

ingredients for summer rolls

How to Make Summer Rolls

Working with rice paper can be tricky at first. But bnce you get the hang of it, you’ll be churning them out by the dozen. Here are a few tips and tricks for making summer rolls:

  1. Gather all the ingredients. Mis-en-place organization is really handy when making summer rolls. The faster you lay all the filling ingredients on the rice paper, the easier it is to roll.
  2. Dip the rice paper in water. Rice paper is delicate and only needs a quick dip in water to soften and become pliable. I usually fill a wide shallow plate with warm water and dip the rice paper for about 3-5 seconds, depending on the thickness of the rice paper. The rice paper should come out slightly firm as it will continue absorbing water and softening. If you soak the the rice paper for too long, it will become too soft and will begin to fold on itself, making rolling practically impossible. 
  3. Lay the rice paper on a wet ceramic surface or a damp towel. My favorite surface is a ceramic cutting board. When wet, the rice paper simply slides on it; it doesn’t stick or tear. A damp kitchen towel would be my second choice. Avoid dry surfaces.
  4. Double up the rice paper (optional). If this is your first time working with rice paper, consider doubling it up. It will be much easier to handle when rolling. The downside is that the ends are a bit chewy because there are multiple layers of rice paper. I usually use just one rice paper per roll but use a lettuce leave as a protective barrier instead.
  5. Assemble the summer rolls. Start laying the filling ingredients at top ⅓ of the rice paper to have enough room for rolling. Keep in mind that whatever ingredients you place first, will be the top of the roll. So, if you’re using whole mint leaves, basil leaves, or even edible flowers, lay them on the rice paper first, so they are visible. Then place a lettuce leaf on top and finally the the rest of the filling ingredients. Be careful not to over-stuff the rolls so they don’t burst.
  6. Roll. When you’re ready to roll, bring the top edge of the rice paper up and over the filling, then fold in the two side flaps, and continue rolling until the rice paper ends. Keep tucking all the ingredients together as you roll. You want to end up with a tight and straight summer roll.

How to Serve Summer Rolls

Summer rolls are best fresh, eaten immediately or on the day they are made. You can either serve them whole or cut them into cross sections for easier eating.

I like to serve the summer rolls with a peanut sauce, but any dipping sauce, such as hoisin or Vietnamese dipping sauce, works. The more sauces you serve the rolls with the better. Each sauce offers a different flavor profile, so you’ll have something everyone can enjoy.

Another way to serve these rolls is deconstructed where guests can assemble and roll their own.

Vietnamese spring rolls with vegetables

How to Store Summer Rolls

  • Storing at room temperature: wrap each summer roll in plastic wrap and store them in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 hours. You can also wrap the summer rolls in a damp lint-free tea towel or moistened paper towel, but just keep in mind that as soon as the tea towel/paper towel dries out, it will stick to the rolls.
  • Refrigerate: you can also store individually wrapped summer rolls in the refrigerator for 1-2 days. Just keep in mind that rice paper tends to harden in the refrigerator, so the summer rolls won’t be as soft and pliable.

More Summer Rolls Recipes

  • Coconut wraps: these rolls are essentially summer rolls in wrapped in a coconut paper instead of rice paper. They are filled with crisp veggies, fresh herbs, and served with a savory-sweet cashew dipping sauce. 

If you try any of these recipes, please, leave a comment and rate the recipe below. It always means a lot when you do.

fresh spring rolls with vegetables

Summer Rolls with Peanut Sauce

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Yield: 12 summer rolls
Summer rolls (also known as fresh spring rolls, salad rolls, rice paper rolls, or veg rolls) are such a versatile food. They are essentially a blank canvas you can fill with whatever you're in the mood for - vegetables, herbs, tofu... they are refreshing, light, crunchy, and so colorful. This recipe is vegan (dairy-free, egg,-free), gluten-free, soy-free, nut-free, and refined sugar-free.

Ingredients
 

Spring Rolls

  • 12 (12) rice papers, *
  • 12 leaves (12 leaves) lettuce
  • 1 (1) carrot, , julienned
  • 1/2 (1/2) cucumber, , julienned
  • 1 (1) bell pepper, , julienned
  • 1 cup (70 g) purple (or green) cabbage, , shaved
  • 2 (2) green onions, , julienned
  • fresh basil
  • fresh mint
  • 3 ounces (85 g) vermicelli noodles, , optional

Peanut Sauce

  • 1/2 cup (125 g) natural peanut butter
  • 2 Tbsp. (30 ml) tamari
  • 2 Tbsp. (30 ml) maple syrup
  • 2 Tbsp. (30 ml) lime juice
  • 1 tsp. ginger, , grated
  • water, , to thin**

Instructions
 

Spring rolls

  • Cook the vermicelli noodles (if using). Pour hot water over the vermicelli noodles and let them "cook" for ~ 5 minutes (read the instructions on package), Once soft, drain the noodles and set them aside.
  • Gather all the ingredients. Mis-en-place organization is really handy when making summer rolls. The faster you lay all the filling ingredients on the rice paper, the easier it is to roll.
  • Dip the rice paper in water. Fill a wide shallow plate with warm water. Dip the rice paper for 3-5 seconds. The rice paper should come out slightly firm as it will continue absorbing water and softening. If you soak the the rice paper for too long, it will become too soft and will begin to fold on itself, making rolling practically impossible. 
  • Lay the rice paper on a wet ceramic surface or a damp towel. My favorite surface is a ceramic cutting board. When wet, the rice paper simply slides on it; it doesn't stick or tear. A damp kitchen towel would be my second choice. Avoid dry surfaces.
  • Double up the rice paper (optional). If this is your first time working with rice paper, consider doubling it up. It will be much easier to handle when rolling. The downside is that the ends are a bit chewy because there are multiple layers of rice paper. I usually use just one rice paper per roll but use a lettuce leave as a protective barrier instead.
  • Assemble the summer rolls. Start laying the filling ingredients at top ⅓ of the rice paper to have enough room for rolling. Keep in mind that whatever ingredients you place first will be the top of the roll. So, if you're using whole mint leaves, basil leaves, or even edible flowers, lay them on the rice paper first, so they are visible. Then place a lettuce leaf on top and finally the the rest of the filling ingredients. Be careful not to over-stuff the rolls so they don't burst.
  • Roll. When you're ready to roll, bring the top edge of the rice paper up and over the filling, then fold in the two side flaps, and continue rolling until the rice paper ends. Keep tucking all the ingredients together as you roll. You want to end up with a tight and straight summer roll.
  • Store. Leftover summer rolls keep well wrapped in plastic wrap and stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 hours. You can also wrap the summer rolls in a damp lint-free tea towel or moistened paper towel, but keep in mind that as soon as the tea towel/paper towel dries out, it will stick to the rolls. For longer term storage, store the wrapped rolls in the refrigerator for 1-2 days. Rice paper tends to harden in the refrigerator though, so the summer rolls won't be as soft and pliable.

Peanut Sauce

  • Mix. Add the peanut butter, tamari, maple syrup, lime juice, and ginger into a small mixing bowl and mix until well combined. Add water to thin.

Notes

*You can use white rice paper or brown rice paper.
**I added ~ ¼ cup/60 ml water.
**Nutrition information is calculated without optional ingredients.
**Nutrition information is approximate and may contain errors. Please, feel free to make your own calculations.

Nutrition

Serving: 1of 12, Calories: 66kcal, Carbohydrates: 13g, Protein: 2g, Fat: 1g, Fiber: 1g