Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Salad Rolls for Mom

Making something new or vaguely exciting for my mom is tough, due to her low-sodium, low-carb, low-sugar, and low-fat dietary requirements.  It kind of leaves vegetables, which ironically, for as much as she made me eat vegetables when I was a kid, she has shown much less verve when I cook them for her.  So I decided to try making a variation on Vietnamese summer rolls (which normally feature noodles, shrimp, and pork) with the focus on salad and she dug it.  Interested?

I used baby spinach and arugula, tofu, and avocado as the filling with rice vinegar and garlic powder as seasoning.

The other key ingredients are these rice paper wrappers:

They are a great lower carb alternative (about 7 carbs per paper, depending on brand) to tortillas and are great with cold items like salad.  When you take one out, it's so thin and seemingly fragile:

I've read various recipes with different recommendation on soaking these rice paper circles--some advise soaking the rice paper for 30 seconds until pliable, some say let them lie between wet paper towels, but I learned from eating dinner with my Vietnamese friend and her family that you only have to submerge it once (make sure the whole thing gets wet) and put it on your plate.  As you load the fillings (granted this took longer when you're passing fillings around with a family then a chef would have mise en place) the water soaks in and when you're ready to wrap it up, it's pliable. 

So here at my mom's I just dipped it in a clean fry pan filled with tap water and put it on my plate--yes, it's initially still stiff:

Then I laid down the filling--some baby spinach leaves and arugula, some slices of avocado and tofu, and topped with splashes of rice vinegar and sprinkles of garlic powder (alternatively, I guess one could toss the greens with a dressing and seasoning beforehand):

Then you roll it like a little burrito, first bring the top up:

Fold the sides in:

Then finish rolling it up:

Ta-da! Vegetables that my mom likes to eat. The nice bonus is that my mom hadn't been enjoying salads because of her poor eyesight--now she doesn't need to see the salad--it's all in her hand. Next time I'll try adding cilantro or mint for her as well. Ideally these should be eaten shortly after they're made--which isn't hard, they're pretty darn tasty!

For those on less restrictive diets, I'm sure some leftover marinated cooked steak or chicken could replace the tofu and it would be dynamite. Just don't tell my sodium-restricted mom!