Taste the Crisp, Crunchy Flavors of Spring
These spring rolls are somewhat messy to make but they are delicious, and with the essential ingredient of fresh cilantro, they almost should the word “fresh.” Rice paper and prepared sweetened chili sauce are readily available in the ethnic food section of most supermarkets. Prepare the filling in advance, so it is at hand when you are ready to roll the rice paper. Prepare each one on cellophane wrap, which you can then use to wrap each finished roll.
- Rice paper rounds (sold in packages)
- Fresh cilantro – stems removed
- Green onion: cleaned, with rood and limp portion of green tops removed: slices julienne-thin
- Fresh bean sprouts
- Iceberg or Napa lettuce or other fresh crisp green
- Any other combination of fresh, crisp vegetables, including carrots, cabbage, etc.; sliced julienne-thin
- Optional: any tofu (fried or backed, then diced); chicken, pork, baby shrimp: cooked and seasoned with soy sauce or tamari, chili sauce, etc. Squeeze out moisture before rolling
- Soak the rice paper rounds a few at a time in cold water until they are soft and flexible.
- Meanwhile, thinly slick long strips of fresh, crunchy vegetables. Plenty of fresh chopped cilantro, cleaned with stems removed, is essential for the distinctive spring roll flavor.
- Working with one round at a time, lay the rice paper round on a piece of cellophane and add the filling. Do not overstuff or the wrap will become messy.
- Roll as tightly as possible, being careful not to rip the fragile rice paper. Tuck in the corners as you go to keep the roll compact. Immediately wrap the spring roll in cellophane and refrigerate. Allow two rolls per person.
Note: For a less messy roll, prepare one cup of sticky or sushi rice and place a thin strip of rice along the center portion of each rice paper round. Top with assorted fresh vegetable strips, cilantro, chicken, shrimp, etc. The sticky rice makes this version easier to roll and the wraps can be sliced into the traditional sushi rolls, for easier eating. Provide individual dipping bowls of sweetened chili sauce, soy or tamari sauce and any other oriental flavored sauces to suit everyone’s palate.
A variation on Thousand Island, this dressing is perfect with Iceberg lettuce. Cut the Iceberg lettuce into four sections. Place each section on a plate or in a shallow bowl and garnish with slices of pepper, tomato, red onion and hard boiled egg (optional). Put generous dollops of dressing on each individual salad. Nice Crunch!
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1 small tomato, cored and finely diced
- 2 small green onions, trimmed (keeping some green) and finely diced
- 1 Tbsp. (or to taste) red onion, finely diced
- 1 Tbsp. red or green pepper (or to taste) finely diced
- juice of half a lemon
- fresh ground pepper
- Combine ingredients in a small bowl and add pepper to taste.
Picnic variation: Buy Thousand Island Dressing! Clean and prepare the lettuce and vegetables in advance. Pack in food storage containers and keep in cooler until mealtime. Assemble on individual plates.
Baked Chicken Thighs
- Olive oil
- 8-12 chicken thighs (skinless)
- celery salt
- Preheat oven to 350°F
- Oil a baking sheet with olive oil. Place each thigh on the baking sheet, rolling until lightly coated
- Squeeze the juice of half a lemon (or more depending on how much chicken you are preparing) over the chicken, season with celery salt and oregano.
- Bake at 350°F for approximately 30 minutes until thoroughly cooked. Use a meat thermometer to check for doneness.
Picnic variation: Prepare thighs and keep in a food storage container in fridge, transfer to cooler for picnic.
Barbecue variation: Grill chicken thighs 10-12 minutes per side and juices run clear. Check for doneness before serving.