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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You probably are the perfect travel mate, Heidi. I can't even imagine hom much more pleasurable eating these must be, especially when compared to airport food. In my experience though rice rolls do tend to come apart when you eat them. Do you have any special trick when it comes to the wrapping?

Sounds like the perfect healthy, fresh meal to eat in the cabin of a pressurized aircraft where you tend to feel so unhealthy and dehydrated. I love your pictures and that marble cutting board.

Delicious. Healthy; light; bite size. Perfect for a long haul flight. Love the addition of tofu too.

Come to Stockholm! I'll make you dinner! These spring rolls look great. I love making spring rolls and home, I've never thought to do a wintery version. Yum!

This is such a clever recipe!!!! The paste is going to add a lot of flavor to the tofu: really great!

How smart to put a flavorful paste inside the spring roll! We usually just eat our spring rolls as we assemble them, but this is a great idea for making them portable.

Though I prefer deep-fried spring rolls (otherwise wrappers seem quite tough for me), these also look very nice. Greetings from Russia!

Spring rolls are a huge favorite of mine...I love rice paper, and let's face it, I love peanut sauce for dipping mine in and I like a little roll with my huge bowl of dip if you know what I mean! Your rolls look gorgeous!

These are exactly what I've been craving lately. They look delicious.

These look super yummy! They remind me of Vietnamese rice rolls. Can't wait to hear where you're going (so exciting) !

I'm also totally impressed, and with Michael on the carting a wee one and not having the capacity to pack anything else. Airport food is not a fun way to kick off a trip, but I seem to do it more than I wish to. These look fun and innovative, and I am, well, jealous. Probably not as much as your airplane seat neighbors, though :).

Oh gosh I'm so impressed by your travel preparation snacks. So deluxe. These look so fresh and satisfying.

Heidi! My MOST favorite plane food is uber hydrating and full of flavor. These look absolutely fabulous. I feel like my skin is glowing at the mere thought of making them. Can't wait to hear about your travels! Noelle

This is such a great idea for work lunches. I bet they'd be good sprouts and carrots too. Have you ever used peanut flour? That's what I use to make peanut sauce most of the time now since it's lower cal (you can have 5x as much sauce!). I just add some almond milk, sriracha and salt.

HS: I haven't Peter, thanks for the heads up. I'll keep an eye out for it.

I finally tracked down some spring roll wrappers and was wondering what to do with them in February. I'm inspired by your wintery take on them.

Oooh, I like this idea! I've never seen a winter spring roll before. I always think fresh spring and summer veggies, but this is fantastic and opens up a whole new whole of possibilities. :)

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