Wintery Spring Rolls Recipe

The spring rolls I packed for a flight from San Francisco to Paris - ginger-onion paste, brown sugar tofu, mushrooms, and herbs.

Wintery Spring Rolls

This post started with me snapping a few photos of the lunch I packed for a flight from San Francisco to Paris. My hope is, by the time you see this, I'll be my way back home - film spent, notebooks full. I'm also going to hold out on you a bit, Paris wasn't my final destination. I was making my way someplace I've never been before.

Wintery Spring Rolls

For this trip, I packed spring rolls. And if my memory is serving me well, this was a first for me. I've done noodles, gyoza, mini burritos, and panini, but never spring rolls. My take: I slathered the rice paper wrappers with a gingery-onion paste, added a couple stiff-spined lettuce leaves for crunch, there was brown-sugar rubbed tofu, mushrooms, and herbs (in this case cilantro). When you have a glance at the recipe you might think it looks a bit component-y, but that's just the nature of spring rolls. They actually come together pretty quickly. And the good news is you can prep the onion paste and tofu a day or two ahead of time.

Wintery Spring Rolls

If you get the seasoning right on each of the components here, I'm going to argue that you don't need a dipping sauce. Although, I made these a number of times in the weeks leading up to my trip, and they are certainly good with a simple soy dipping sauce. Or, I do a simple twist on peanut sauce with almond butter (in place of the peanut butter) thinned with a bit of soy sauce, splash of miring, and either fresh lemon juice or brown rice vinegar to cut the creaminess of the nut butter. Thin with some hot water until it is the consistency you like.

If you're curious about what my little travel lunchbox looks like, you can see a few pics of it here. I'm excited to get home and share some pictures and new recipes with you! xo -h

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Wintery Spring Rolls

Here's how this works. Each roll has a slather of ginger onion paste, a couple crunchy lettuce leaves, some mushrooms, tofu, and a bit of cilantro (or other herb of your choice - mint, basil). Roll tight, and you're set.

Ginger Onion Paste:

2 spring onions, finely sliced
2 red spring onions, finely sliced (or equiv. red onion / shallots)
3 tablespoons grated, peeled ginger
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
6 tablespoons sunflower oil

Brown Sugar Tofu & Mushrooms:

12 ounces extra firm tofu
3 medium cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
4 teaspoons natural cane sugar (or brown sugar)
2 tablespoons sunflower oil

8 ounces mushrooms, brushed clean, sliced 1/4-inch thick

For spring roll assembly:

Ginger Onion Paste (above)
Brown Sugar Tofu & Mushrooms (above)
crisp, crunchy lettuce (baby gems / romaine)
1 small bunch fresh cilantro or other herbs, well washed / dried
~1 dozen rice paper wrappers

Make the ginger onion paste: Place the onions and ginger in a mortar and pestle. Sprinkle with the salt, and pound until the onions are quite bruised, but not paste-like. Heat the oil in a small saucepan until hot (hot enough that you could saute something in it). Add the onion mixture to the oil, remove from heat, and transfer to a jar to cool. I like to drain off (and save) most of the oil before using it here in the rolls, leaving just the paste.

Make the tofu & mushrooms: Pat the tofu dry, and cut into six equal slabs before arranging in a single layer on a rimmed plate. Place the garlic in a mortar and pestle, sprinkle with the salt and sugar, and pound into a paste. Work the oil in, a bit at a time, until the ingredients are completely combined. Use your hands to slather and gently coat each piece of tofu, be quite thorough. Set aside, and leave the bowl dirty.

Cook the tofu in a single layer in a large skillet over medium-high heat until deeply golden on each side. I've found I don't need any addition oil here. Remove from the pan, and when cool enough to handle, slice into pencil-thick pieces, and salt to taste.

In the meantime, toss the mushrooms gently (but well), in the residual marinade left in the tofu bowl. Once the tofu is done, you can use the same tofu skillet to cook the mushrooms. Use high heat, and cook until the mushrooms release their water and take on a nice, dark color. Transfer to a bowl or platter, and season appropriately.

Assemble the spring rolls: In bowl of hot water, dip each rice paper wrapper for just 3 seconds. Resist over-soaking, even if the paper is a bit stiff it will continue to absorb water as you assemble the wrap. Place on a flat work surface and fold in half. Have a glance at the photos up above if you've never done this. You're going to want to keep all your ingredients crowded into 1/3 of the available surface of the wrapper at this point.

Put down a generous smear of ginger onion paste. Then a lettuce leaf, tofu, a few mushroom, cilantro. Then, tuck and roll. I like the open-sided rolls (above), but you can certainly make enclosed rolls by leaving the wrapper round, and folding in the edges mid-wrap.

Makes about a dozen rolls.

Prep time: 15 minutes - Cook time: 15 minutes

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

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I LOVE this recipe - and so love your travel lunchboxes. It so would make everyone on the planet jealous. I HATE trying to find something at the airport to eat. It's almost impossible!

Belinda @zomppa

These spring rolls look sensational. What a great idea for airplane food, it's a complete meal in one.

Christine @ Fresh Local and Best

What a great idea -- also love the quinoa patties and potstickers. I'm going to Paris in the fall and would love to take these with me....


I'm amazed (as I see a lot of other people are!) by your travel fare! I barely manage getting myself to the airport on time and in one piece. Hope you're having a wonderful trip, and can't wait to hear about it!

charlotte au chocolat

I can't wait to hear about your trip! These spring rolls look like they could hold me over until spring actually arrives.


i hope one day that I end up next to you on an airplane... these look FANTASTIC


I LOVE fresh spring rolls - and those mushrooms are absolutely adorable!! I'm the same about packing for a trip - I always bring my own meals on the plane too :)

Anjali @ The Picky Eater

I absolutely adore this recipe, so refreshing and tempting during these cold winter months. Great looking travel lunch box too :), [email protected] Meals For Meat Eaters

[email protected] Meals For Meat Eaters

This sounds fantastic! And I have everything, minus the rice wrappers, in the fridge. Can't wait for your photos, some film ones I hope!


love how the greens poke out one side, very enticing and somehow more elegant than tightly wrapping both sides

HS: I think so too! Plus, if you are shaing with friends, they can get a sense of what's inside at a glance :)

Blaise Freeman

I continue to be impressed with your motivation to pack real food for plane flights. I've managed an egg salad once or twice, but usually I just mentally write the whole day off and put up with whatever crap I can scrounge at the airport! Of course I'm usually herding munchkins so the idea of even one more thing to manage seems intractable :).

Michael @ Herbivoracious

Ooh, I would love to travel with you! What a lunch! Just bought some rice paper wrappers a couple weeks ago, they may be destined for these rolls. Thanks! Can't wait to see where you went after Paris.


I love that you pack lunch for planes. i'm always too busy getting everything else in line to have time for food packing, but maybe i need to shift priorities around a bit! these look great for hiking snacks, too!

heather @ chiknpastry

i am always so amazed by your airplane fare. I can barely get myself together to make granola before I head off on a trip. (I don't want to re-live the long trip to Jakarta that I made sans much real food...) Beautiful, as usual, Heidi.

HS: Thanks Sarah :) I'm imagining the flight to Jakarta is no fun. I think my flight from SF > Singapore > Sri Lanka was my longest ever...not one I look back on fondly ;)


I LOVE your simple little almond-riff-on-the-peanut sauce recipe. I have GOT to try that soon!

HS: I love it - give it a try. You can trick it out and make it spicy, etc. too.


Quel coincidence! GF Boy and I made spring rolls together for V-Day dinner this week. We filled ours with romaine, avocado, julienned cucumber, rice noodles, and cilantro, dipped in homemade ginger-y peanut sauce. Yum.

Coco @ Opera Girl Cooks

Love your take on these spring rolls!

Blog is the New Black

Oh yum! That ginger paste would be good on all sorts of things. (I love your countertops, too.)


can't wait to try these! and i can't wait to see where your surprise destination is...


Mmmm, I love the idea of a wintery spring roll! They're usually a go-to meal for me in the summer when my garden is too full of greens, but now you've got me craving these, especially the mushrooms and all that fresh ginger :D


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