As part of our on-going recipe exchange, Long Distance Kitchen, Bronwen assigned us Summer Rolls with Peanut Sauce, with a recipe from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.  I’d never tried anything like this before, so it was a fun project.

I enlisted some help with chopping and grating and so forth – carrots, cucumber, mint, basil, butter lettuce, green onions.  In the meantime, I prepped a peanut sauce – garlic, shallots, red pepper flakes, and turmeric got whizzed together in the food processor (leaving it, after several washes and uses, still yellow).

This was added to some hot oil in a saucepan and cooked for a minute, and then coconut milk, brown sugar, peanut butter, soy sauce and lime juice were added, and the whole thing cooked for a while longer.  It separated a bit, maybe because I was trying to keep it warm until everything else was ready.  The leftovers separated completely in the fridge, but when I reheated it for round two, it came back together in perfect creaminess.

When all the pieces were ready – veggies prepped, sauce warmed, rice noodles softened, it was time to bathe the wrappers in hot tap water.  The recipe called for rice paper, but I found tapioca ones and didn’t feel like making an extra trip to try to find rice paper.  Basically you just soften them in hot tap water for 10 seconds, lay them on a towel one at a time, and layer in your fillings.  The recipe suggested a bunch of other fillings, too, that I either couldn’t find or didn’t care about – cilantro, tofu, etc.  Every time I was ready to wrap up a roll, burrito style, I had this nagging feeling that I was forgetting something.  I’d look over the table – lettuce, check; carrot, check; herbs & onion, check; cucumber, check.  Then I’d think, huh, guess I got everything.  It wasn’t until we’d started eating that I remembered the rice noodles sitting by the sink.  Note to self: trust instincts.  They were still tasty, just less filling and more salady.  The peanut sauce was delicious.

Since I had leftover veggies and peanut sauce – plus all those noodles – we had the same dinner again later in the week.  This time, nothing got left out, plus the whole thing was more photogenic, what with our improved wrapping skills and the creamier peanut sauce.  Yum!  I’ll definitely be pulling out this recipe again – as the name suggests, it would be a perfect light meal/appetizer for a hot summer night.