Vietnamese Fresh Spring Rolls | Dishin & Dishes




“Have you watched the movie Babette’s Feast?

It’s a Danish film, by Gabriel Axel, full of annoying subtitles, washed out scenery, bland boring people that culminates into one of the most delectably prepared feasts I’ve ever seen, including the most expensive dish -“Cailles en Sarcophage” or Quail in puff pastry – deboned quail, seared, stuffed with foie gras and HUGE truffle slices, and a magnificent sauce of figs and truffle spooned over top. Watching these Puritan-type old spinsters warm and open up over delightfully thought-out and prepared cuisine is one of the reasons I love to cook.

Ordinary food becomes gastronomy, acquaintances become friends, relationships improve over each intimate and delicious bite.

It’s what makes you think about what would please that night for dinner, or that weekend for brunch with loved ones, new acquaintances or just the two of you on a romantic evening. Which led me to this dish, which is sadly not as eleborate or expensively delicious as Cailles en Sarcophage, but would satisfy anyone on the hottest of summer nights, or set out the fixings and rolled out as a group would be a fun project to bring even the somber-most hearts together.

I love fresh Vietnamese spring rolls, especially in the dog days of summer when the green seems to have disappeared among browning foliage and grass and the pavement is so hot you can’t walk barefoot on it without hopping back and forth between each foot. The cool is finally coming here but it’s hardly seemed like fall at all with our temps being in the 80’s 90’s!

You can fill these with any variety of vegetables, meats or tofu and you can use a choice of fresh herbs, but I sort of love the combination of Thai basil and mint in the more traditional way of things.

I did decide to go a little off-kilter however by using fresh and crunchy zucchini noodles in my version this week instead of the usual rice noodles. After all it’s summer (sort of), and fresh produce still abounds so I walked out to my garden and picked veggies and fresh herbs and got to rolling up some refreshing spring rolls for dinner one night when the Wonderful guy was at his men’s bible study….and it was a chick food kind of a night.

fresh basil mint and chives

Start off doing some prep work.  You can use either cook medium-sized shrimp – (you can use 1-2 shrimp depending on what size of wraps you’re using) or buy the pre-cooked shrimp, which is what I opted to do. Keep in mind that you’re only counting 1/2 of a shrimp as one shrimp however….(see next step).

Cut the shrimp in half as shown in the following photo.


They will be nice little flat halves of shrimp. You don’t have to cut your shrimp, but it just makes the roll a little less stuffed I think to halve them.  You will ned 2-3 of these halves per fresh spring roll, so count out how many you wish to make. I made 8 tonight so I really only needed 4-6 shrimp.

Next cut some chives into 4 inch pieces, at least 8 or more if you love chives.


Other ingredients I used to fill my wraps were shredded carrots, using a potato peeler (but you could also just buy the matchsticks for a time saver) slivered red peppers, slivered snap peas, cucumbers and radishes and thin spears of asparagus. You’ll want to tear some lettuce leaves into about 4 inch long by 2-3 inch wide pieces (I used green leaf lettuce) and also some leaves of mint, cilantro sprigs and leaves and either Thai basil or regular basil. Thai is the best if you can find it.

Fresh spring roll ingredients

It’s important to prep everything ahead of time because it will make rolling these spring rolls a snap.

Oh yes, I forgot to mention, traditional Vietnamese spring rolls use rice noodles as a filler but I wanted to capitalize on summer, and fresh zucchini noodles, sometimes called “zoodles”, so I hauled out my spiralizer and began to make them on the plate with the smallest holes.

spiralized zucchini

Now for the wrapper – you can find these in Asian markets or order here. I use this brand:

fresh spring roll wrappers

These are crispy rice paper rounds that you will dip in water to soften and use. They are a bit tricky and awkward at first, but you’ll get it after a few.

rice paper wrappers

Fill up a round shallow sauce pan (one that’s bigger than the rice papers) with water.

Dip one right in and hold down with your fingers for about the count of 10 seconds.


Lay it out gently without letting the sides stick to each other. It’s kind of like a challenging game of cling wrap war….

I seriously detest using cling wrap.


Now typically you lay in your lettuce first. This makes a nice “nest” of sorts for all your small ingredients. Do your layering of ingredients down to the end of the rice paper wrap closest to you.


You can lay one or two of these down and then begin to top with the rest of your ingredients. I started with a blob of the zucchini noodles and then stacked the rest.

how to roll fresh spring rolls

Don’t layer on the shrimp yet.

We’re going to start to roll by holding the rice paper wrap closest to you. Gently pull it up and over your toppings taking care to your move your fingers to the back of the toppings to hold on to them and tuck them in as you roll.

rolling fresh spring rolls

Tuck the end of the wrapper under the vegetables.


Take the two ends and tuck them onto the roll. You can also do this at the end and because the wrapper is so gluey-like it will stick just fine!


Now you should have the back edge left still unrolled. Lay down your shrimp. This just makes it prettier when rolled up.


Next,  continue rolling all the way up!


If you want to be fancy-schmancy, you can add in a long chive stem down with the shrimp and leave the end open for it to stick out.


Then go ahead and roll the next seven of your fresh spring rolls! You can cut them in half to make a pretty presentation and serve them with my famous Thai peanut sauce for dipping (Find that recipe here!). It’s delicious!


Vietnamese Fresh Spring Rolls

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  • 8 rice paper spring roll wraps (I use Three Ladies Brand)
  • 8 3 inch pieces of leaf lettuce trimmed to fit rice paper
  • 1 large zucchini, spiralized on thin holes
  • 8-12 cooked medium-sized shrimp sliced in half long ways
  • 8 chives trimmed 4-5 inches long
  • 1 medium sized carrot, julienned or peeled
  • sugar snap peas sliced long ways thinly
  • 1/4 red pepper sliced long ways thinly
  • 3 large radishes, julienned
  • 8 thin asparagus stalks, ends trimmed to 3-4 inches
  • 1 small cucumber thinly sliced into julienne pieces
  • 16 whole Thai basil or basil leaves
  • 16 whole mint leaves
  • 8 sprigs of cilantro
  • *Thai Peanut Sauce for dipping
  • Make zucchini noodles and prep shrimp, and other vegetables as stated in Ingredients above.
  • Dip each rice paper wrap in shallow pan or bowl filled with water and hold it approximately 10 seconds to soften.
  • Lay out on cutting board stretching to remove most wrinkles
  • Lay down lettuce leaf on one end leaving an inch or so border of rice paper wrap around the edges
  • Layer all other vegetables as closely as possible in center of leaf lettuce EXCEPT shrimp and herbs
  • Lay mint on top of all
  • lay basil on top of mint
  • Pull the rice paper rice gently over top of all using your middle two fingers to hold vegetable and tuck the rice paper over top of all and roll leaving about 2-3 inches from end.
  • Lay shrimp evenly on remaining unroll end and continue rolling
  • Tuck ends over the bottom of the roll and press firmly to stick.
  • Serve with Thai peanut dipping sauce.





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    Blistered Shishito Peppers | Dishin & Dishes

    what is shishito pepper


    Have ya’ll had shishito peppers before?

    Usually they are served at Asian restaurants and come out crackling hot on a plate as an appetizer.  Shishito peppers are finger-sized, green, (but sometimes red) mild peppers with a delicious flavor and delicately thin skin which make them perfect to simply blister in a hot skillet, oven or over a smoky grill and snack on as an appetizer.

    We are growing shishitos in our garden this year and being rather excited about it, I watched the first lonely pepper that appeared recently begin to lengthen a tad every day.

    Finally last Saturday morning while Mr. Wonderful was at work, I whipped myself up a garden omelet with sauteed kale, peppers, cherry tomatoes and onions from the garden and a light sprinkling of goat cheese inside and a side of perfectly cooked turkey bacon.  I took that first prized pepper and toasted it on a lightly olive oiled iron skillet until the skin charred on all sides in places, sprinkled it with pink Himalayan sea salt and feasted on the entire mess as if I was royalty.

    Photo Jul 15, 9 12 03 PM

    If you garden, you know what it is to watch a vegetable hang on the vine, impatiently watching for days and then snapping it off like a coveted trophy to bring inside and cook it up. In a few short weeks, we’ll have peppers coming out of our ears, but this day, one little perfect pepper sufficed to make me smile with pleasure.

    Imagine my extreme surprise and joy when I walked into our local Sprouts store a few days later and saw a giant bag of shishitos in the fresh produce section.  I took them home, blistered them and while we made some yummy Thai Green Curry Seafood Stew and Potstickers that night, we nibbled on them in the kitchen.

    Photo Jul 20, 10 05 00 AM

    To make Blistered Shishito Peppers you can do them several ways. First off just a warning, if you don’t want them snapping and popping on you, prick each one first with a sharp knife or fork so they won’t puff up and pop, splattering you with hot oil.  Then, simply toss them on a grill pan and make them outdoors on your BBQ grill, or skewer them and do the same. You can blister them on a hot skillet barely rubbed with a bit of olive oil right on a smoking hot smove top or you can do like I did and toss the whole lot of them into the oven and broil them until the skin partially blisters black on both top and bottom  Remove them from the oven, sprinkle them with some good coarse salt like sea salt, or fleur de sel or Maldon and for an added touch of wonder, try adding a sprinkle of a seasoning called togarashi, a blended spice of chiles used in Japanese cuisine.

    shishito peppers 2

    With or without the togarashi, you’ll love the Blistered Shishito Peppers and just to warn you, it’s a bit like playing Russian Roulette. One in ten peppers is said to be hot, although I popped seven or eight in my mouth without issue and then Mr. Wonderful tried his first and said “that’s HOT”.

    The luck of the draw.

    Eat them quickly while they are hot and crispy as they wilt rather quickly after removing them from the heat! You can serve them with a simple dipping sauce made of 1/2 cup of greek yogurt mixed with 1 teaspoon of smoky chipotle and adobe sauce from a can of smoky peppers.

    Anyway, I now have several more peppers popping up on my shishito plants, and I cannot wait to find new uses for them in cooking.  Whether you try the stove top method to avoid turning on your oven or roast them in the oven or char them on your BBQ grill, you’ll adore these crispy little darlings as much as we do!

    shishito peppers grilled 3

    Blistered Shishito Peppers



    • 2 dozen fresh shishito peppers, stem on
    • 1 T. olive oil
    • 1 t. coarse salt like fleur de sel or Maldon or Himalayan sea salt
    • *Optional: 1 t. togarashi
    • ½ c. plain Greek yogurt
    • 1 t. chipotle and adobe sauce
    1. Preheat oven to broil
    2. Add oil to heavy oven-proof skillet and place in oven until blistering hot. Remove skillet and add peppers (peppers will sizzle)
    3. Return pan to oven and broil until both tops and bottoms are slightly blackened (about 4-5 minutes)
    4. Remove and sprinkle with salt and serve immediately for maximum crunchiness
    5. Mix sauce ingredients together and serve on the side!


    Blistered Shishito Peppers recipe


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    Watermelon Jalapeno Agua Fresca (Aguas Frescas)

    Watermelon Jalapeno Agua Fresca Recipe 4


    A couple of years ago, when I was finishing my book, Mr. Wonderful and I went on a trip to the Los Angeles area for a week. He worked for two days and I sat on the beach with my laptop writing. Then, we traveled up and down Highway 1 along the coast stopping at every beach and staying at various hotels along the way.  One in particular near Santa Monica was absolutely wonderful. It had an outdoor lobby in the center and had lush groupings of fire-pits with beautiful couches and chairs, complete with the ability to privacy with long resplendent curtains you could pull around them. The pool had cabanas around it with lounge chairs at ground level built down into wooden platforms. It was by far, one of the most-glamorous and enjoyable hotels we’ve ever stayed at.

    By day we would traipse down to the beach and enjoy watching the surf-dudes try and conquer the waves, and then we’d come back for a clothing change and head out to a local place to have lunch. When we returned to the hotel from the beach, however, man were we thirsty!

    In the hotel lobby were giant glass urns full of ice water infused with various fruits and vegetables, and I fell in love with one in particular – watermelon and jalapeno. At first, it seemed off-kilter to me but I fell in love with the sweetness of the watermelon and the soft heat of the jalapeno flaring up after the fact in the back of my throat.

    That is the inspiration for this agua fresca.

    Agua frescas are common to Mexico, Central America and parts of the Carribean. The term agua fresca means “fresh water” and is nothing more than a blending of sweet or sour fruits or sometimes rice (in the case of horchata) with water and some sort of sweetener. They are extremely refreshing in the hot summer and exceptionally good for you too! Watch how easy this one is to make.

    Start out by getting a really good watermelon.

    Photo Jul 21, 1 59 27 AM

    I have the best luck looking for one that has a yellow spot on it and thumps hollow-like when I rap it with my knuckles. The yellow spot means it has rested on that particular spot on the ground for awhile ripening and this peculiar method of selection has usually ended up with sweet ripe results in a watermelon.

    Cut it up into slices, remove the rind and cut into rough chunks until you get six cups. This was about a half of a medium-sized seedless watermelon. Except it had seeds, so I’m not sure what’s up with that.

    Watermelon cut collage

    Now slice off the tail end of a jalapeno and slice it in half. Scrape the seeds and white ribs out with the pointed end of a spoon. If you think the jalapeno is too adventurous for you, simply leave it out. The plain ol’ regular watermelon agua fresca is delicious by itself!

    jalapeno slice

    Place both the watermelon chunks and the pieces of jalapeno into your blender and then pop the lid on. If need be to get your blender going, add a bit of water (maybe a couple of tablespoons) to the blender. Then whiz it up! If you can’t fit all six cups, do about four and then when it begins to liquify, you can push the other remaining chunks through the hole of the blender. Puree this to a very smooth consistency and then pour it into a bowl or pitcher through a fine sieve. You can press the solids (kind of foamy-looking stuff) in the sieve with the back of a large spoon or spatula to really get all the juice out.

    Blend watermelon for Agua Fresca

    Now add in the juice of two limes, one and one-half cups of water and two tablespoons of either honey or Truvia (maybe less depending on your sweet preference). Also take your jalapeno slices and 2/3 cup of fresh mint leaves and two more limes sliced thinly and add them in along with 2-3 cups of ice cubes.

    watermelon agua fresca collage

    Stir up the pitcher with a long spoon.

    pitcher of watermelon jalapeno agua fresca

    And pour some into glasses.

    Watermelon Jalapeno Agua Fresca Recipe 3

    Refreshing doesn’t even begin to cover it.

    AWatermelon Jalapeno Agua Fresca (Aguas Frescas)



    Recipe type: Drink

    • 6 c. watermelon, cut in chunks
    • ½ medium sized jalapeno, ribs and seeds scraped out
    • 1½ c. water
    • 2 large limes, juiced (about ¼ cup)
    • 2 T. honey or 2 T. Truvia
    • Garnish: 2 limes, sliced into rounds, 1 jalapeno, sliced into rounds, seeds removed, ⅔ c. fresh mint leaves
    1. Place watermelon and jalapeno in blender. If needed, add a little of the water to start the blending process.
    2. Once the mixture is finely blended, pour it through a fine sieve into a bowl.
    3. Squeeze in lime juice and add any remaining water and honey or Truvia.
    4. Pour into large pitcher and add ice, lime and jalepeno slices and mint
    5. Serve in glasses with ice


    Want some more some more watermelon inspired recipes? check out what other wonderful food bloggers are featuring in Food Network’s Summer Soirée below!

    Weelicious: Watermelon Cinnamon Granita
    Homemade Delish: Refreshing Watermelon Salsa
    Healthy Eats: Pretty in Pink: 6 Dishes Made Better with Watermelon
    Creative Culinary: Margarita Watermelon
    The Wimpy Vegetarian: Watermelon and Peach Salsa
    Dishin & Dishes: Watermelon Jalapeno Agua Fresca
    Napa Farmhouse 1885: Watermelon Salsa
    Red or Green: Watermelon, Corn & Jalapeno Salad
    The Mom 100: Watermelon Strawberry Smoothie
    Taste with the Eyes: Unique Watermelon Salad – Pomegranate Syrup, Feta, Cucumber
    FN Dish: 6 Party-Ready Ways to Take Watermelon Off the Rind







    how do you make agua fresca


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    Strawberry Rhubarb Smoothie

    Strawberry Rhubarb Smoothie


    Rhubarb and strawberries are showing up everywhere!  Here’s a Saturday morning, or any morning smoothie made in memory of this.

    Only it’s minus the 90 million fat and sugar grams that you get with it.

    Toss some nonfat plain yogurt, some fresh strawberries, rhubarb, honey and a little ice into the blender, and you’ll have a nice treat!

    Katie’s Printable Recipe – Strawberry Rhubarb Smoothie

    The post Strawberry Rhubarb Smoothie appeared first on Dishin & Dishes.


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    Holiday Spiced Cider | Dishin & Dishes



    Baby it’s cold outside…well sometimes.  We actually had a 75 degree day one day this week.  Ya just never know in Oklahoma.

    The holidays are and have been upon us. We like to start a crockpot of this cider on Thanksgiving and Christmas and pretty much every weekend in between. Not only is it warm goodness to sip on in the evenings, but it makes your house smell heavenly as well.

    But for the most part, the  weather here has dropped significantly requiring hoodies, sweaters, blankets. socks and the worst of all…pantyhose.  I hate pantyhose almost as much as I hate spiked high heels, and think it highly unfair that men don’t have to suffer the misery of either.  I mean, the things us woman have to endure to look marvelous..I tell ya..

    Anyway, I actually like cool weather.  I realize that places that stay warm all year have their perks, but I love the change in seasons.  Especially here in Oklahoma.  I love it when the 100 degree days spiral down to the 80’s, and then the mercury continues to drop to even the 60’s and 50’s.  I love wrapping up in a blanket on a cold Saturday afternoon and popping in a movie.

    But nothing makes it more perfect than a good cup of warm, fragrant Spiced Cider.


    This recipe is made in your crock pot, but can be made in a pot on your stove as well. Just simmer it for 15 minutes or so on your stove and you’re good to go.  However, the added bonus to the crockpot over the stove is

    #1)  if you walk away and forget about it, it won’t evaporate or reduce away, and

    #2) the heavenly aroma it fragrances your home with all day long.

    So, to begin, pour a gallon of apple cider into your crockpot.




    Now, the spices of mulled cider beg for this spice, the most important ingredient of spiced cider.

    Cloves just give it that little hint of something’ something’ at the back of your palate.  Add in one tablespoon of ground cloves.


    Next, add 1/4 cup of brown sugar.  I like my cider smooth with just a hint of tartness.


    Add 1 tablespoon of Allspice.


    Add 4-5 whole cinnamon sticks.  They look pretty floating on top.


    Slice up one whole orange.


    And float the pieces right into the pool.


    Some people use juice, but I prefer the pretty oranges floating on top and also, this way you release the essential oils in the rind of the orange as well.

    And that’s all folks.  Just pop on your crockpot lid and turn your setting to High.


    I left mine like this for several hours, then turned it down to Low.


    Now if you are a picky texture floaty person, you  might want to strain this before you serve it through some cheese cloth or a fine sieve.

    However, as one person who refuses to drink pulp in orange juice, it didn’t bother me at all.  The spices kind of melt in with the cider.  But there may be some residue in the bottom of your cup, so you decide.

    Ladle it out into a nice mug or cup.

    final collage

    During mid-afternoon at some point, it occurred to me that this would be fabulously amazing with one of my Triple Cinnamon Snickerdoodle Bars.  I think it was the incredible scent of the mix of apples and spices that drew me.

    I made up a tray and set off to watch Patrick Swayze for the millionth time in Point Break on some off-cable channel.


    Let’s have a minute of silence in remembrance of Patrick.  I will always have the biggest crush on him that goes way back to the 80’s.  I remember being pregnant with Tori and with my hormones all out of whack, sobbing all the way to the parking lot after watching Ghost for the first time.  I was astounded to learn he was 57 when he died recently.  I would have guessed early 40’s.  He still looked that good.

    So, it was a lovely, cool autumn day.

    I was under a quilt, sipping Mulled Cider.



    Holiday Spiced Cider


    Total time



    Recipe type: Drinks

    • 1 gal. Apple cider
    • 1 T. ground cloves or 8 whole cloves
    • ¼ c. brown sugar
    • 1 T. Allspice
    • 4-5 whole cinnamon sticks
    • One whole orange sliced thinly
    1. Add all ingredients to crockpot
    2. Turn on high heat
    3. Allow to heat to hot temperature then turn crockpot on low or warm for the rest of the day!
    4. After 2-3 hours can strain if desired or just serve with a little strainer and let guests ladle into their cups through the strainer.


    It doesn’t get much better than that.


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