Learning to Cook: Vegetable Summer Rolls

So, here it is – the end of 2013! That was fast, right?! How did you do on your resolutions? I’m going to give myself a B+. My one resolution for 2013 was to learn to cook. I created a really organized plan for myself, and while I started off strong, I sort of veered off-plan for the rest of the year. I did do a LOT more cooking this year than usual. I’m pretty sure I completed several of the “lessons” I assigned to myself, but I just didn’t track it and photograph my progress as often as I had intended. So, I’m going to leave my learn-to-cook plan open-ended, and just work on it and complete the list whenever I can.

Here’s one of the recipes I did remember to photograph! Vegetable Summer Rolls with Peanut Sauce. I order these every time I eat at Big Bowl in Reston. I crave them regularly, so I decided to try to replicate the recipe at home. I couldn’t find a recipe that sounded exactly like the Big Bowl summer rolls, so I combined about four different recipes to come as close as I could to theirs. I ended up making way too much peanut sauce (so if you make this recipe you might want to cut it in half), but I feel like it was pretty close in taste. And the recipe actually went really well! Not a lot can go wrong here – there’s no way to overcook or undercook them, so this just might be my niche!


Vegetable Summer Rolls with Peanut Sauce
  • ¾ cup natural-style creamy peanut butter
  • ⅓ cup water
  • 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (from about 1½ medium limes)
  • 4½ teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 2¼ teaspoons chile-garlic paste
  • 1 medium garlic clove mashed to a paste
  • ½ teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 6 oz dried rice vermicelli
  • 12 round rice papers (8" diameter)
  • 1 head butter or Boston Bibb lettuce, leaves separated
  • 1 cup julienned or shredded carrots
  • ½ cup julienned red bell peppers
  • fresh basil or Thai basil leaves
  1. For the sauce: Whisk the first eight ingredients (peanut butter through sesame oil) together in a medium bowl; set aside.
  2. For the summer rolls: Use a cake pan or pie dish and fill it with about 1" of warm water. Dip one rice paper round in the dish for a few seconds. Lift the rice paper and let the water drip off. Place it on clean, dry work surface. Blot the top of the rice paper with a paper towel. Work one roll at a time.
  3. Top the wet rice paper with lettuce, vermicelli noodles, carrots, bell pepper, and basil leaves. Roll up the rice paper tightly, folding each side in before completing the roll. The wrapper is self-sealing. Use a sharp knife to cut the roll into slices. Repeat with each rice paper.


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