Summer rolls are one of our favorite no-cook meals for summer nights or even "roll-your-own" dinner parties. The combination of cold vegetables, fresh herbs, and chilled shrimp, tofu, or chicken tucked into chewy rice paper wrappers is one of the most satisfying summer dishes we know. They're ideal for using up leftovers and a great excuse to make peanut sauce, but they can be messy to eat — especially if you're new to rolling them. But there's a secret ingredient that will help hold your summer roll fillings in place!
"Lettuce" Show You!
Use lettuce to wrap your summer roll fillings before rolling them in the rice paper! The ingenious trick tastes great — adding color and extra crunch — while also pinning down small ingredients like shredded carrots, grated radish, and slippery rice noodles. Just pile these onto a small lettuce leaf and roll it up like a newspaper — no need to tuck in the edges, as the rice paper roll will cover either end when wrapped. Since you're adding everything to the lettuce bundle first, you can stuff it full of the good stuff. It's another way to pack the roll with more veggies that won't get all over the place after one bite.
Bibb or Boston lettuce leaves work best for this, as they are both sturdy and delicate enough to hold the fillings and not tear through the rice paper. Be sure to select leaves at least the size of your palm so they are easy to fill. Now when you take a bite of a homemade summer roll, you can expect all the good stuff to stay in place. Success!
Our cooking lesson will walk you through making your best summer rolls yet. From preparing the filling to prepping the rice paper wrap, here's how to master this summer favorite.