A gal can't live on green salads alone. That's why, inspired by Emma's idea to eat a salad inside a pita pocket, I decided to wrap a salad inside a rice paper roll, creating a fresh, crunchy summer roll that is a cinch to throw together. Roasted shrimp, chunks of avocado and crisp romaine are wrapped up and dipped in a creamy miso-tahini dressing for a cool, satisfying summer lunch or dinner.
Most summer roll recipes include a lot of components — julienned vegetables, proteins, noodles, herbs, greens — which can turn a potentially quick meal into a rather involved process. I decided to streamline the ingredients for a weeknight-friendly recipe that replaces most of the filler with shredded romaine lettuce (about half a head per serving!), resulting in a more salad-like roll that is a lot more simple to assemble. If you have the time and inclination, feel free to add more shredded vegetables and herbs for a more traditional summer roll.
Instead of tossing this "salad" with a dressing, you dip it into a creamy, tangy miso-tahini-lemon combination that is my riff on Sara Kate's favorite salad dressing. The tahini adds richness without the heaviness of a dairy-based salad dressing. In fact, with all the healthy fats found in the avocado and the tahini, these rolls are surprisingly satisfying.
If you've never wrapped summer rolls before, be prepared to take it slow and accept that your attempts may look nothing like the expertly-wrapped rolls you get at the local Vietnamese joint. (I know that mine never do.) I find it helps to take the rice paper out of the water before it has fully softened. It will continue to absorb water as you work with it, and it will be a lot easier to handle than a completely soft and floppy wrapper. It's also okay to accept defeat, dump out all the ingredients and start again with a new wrapper. While happily dipping and munching on these cool, crunchy rolls, nobody will know but you.
Shrimp and Avocado Summer Salad Rolls
Makes 4 rolls, serves 2
For the rolls: 12-15 medium shrimp (about 1/2 pound), peeled, deveined and tails removed 2 teaspoons grapeseed or other flavorless oil 1/8 teaspoon salt 4 rice paper wrappers (or more, if needed) 1 avocado, halved, pit removed and cut into 12 slices 8 sprigs cilantro 4 cups shredded romaine (about 1 head)
For the dressing: 2 tablespoons tahini 2 teaspoons yellow miso paste 2 tablespoons lemon juice 2 tablespoons warm water 1/2 - 1 teaspoon sambal oelek, or more to taste (optional)
To cook the shrimp, preheat the oven to 400°F. Toss the shrimp with the oil and sprinkle with salt. Lay the shrimp on a baking sheet in a single layer. Roast for 5 to 8 minutes, until the shrimp are pink and cooked through. Remove from baking sheet and let cool.
Meanwhile, make the dressing by mixing the tahini and miso in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in the lemon juice and water until a smooth dressing forms. Add sambal oelek for some spiciness, if desired.
To assemble rolls, fill a large pie plate or other shallow dish large enough to fit the rice paper wrappers with warm water. Arrange the shrimp, avocado, cilantro and lettuce in bowls or plates around a damp cutting board, with the rice paper wrappers and soaking water nearby.
Submerge a wrapper in the water and let sit until it is no longer stiff, but not so soft that it immediately folds onto itself, about 20 to 30 seconds. Place the softened wrapper on the cutting board. Arrange 3 shrimp in a row in the middle of the wrapper, followed by 3 pieces of avocado, 2 sprigs of cilantro and about 1 cup of lettuce. Fold in the two sides of the wrapper, then roll the wrapper around the filling, trying to compress the lettuce as much as possible, similar to wrapping a burrito. (Remove some lettuce if you are finding it difficult to roll.) The rice paper will stick to itself, sealing the roll closed. Transfer roll to a plate and repeat with remaining ingredients.
Cut rolls in half and serve immediately with the dressing on the side for dipping.
For a prettier roll, alternate the shrimp and avocado while layering it.
If it's too hot to turn on the oven, grill or poach the shrimp instead.
The dressing is just as tasty with other types of miso paste, such as red or white. Feel free to use what you have on hand.