I hopped over the Atlantic again the other day – a nice three-plus week adventure in Italy that combined some work and pleasure; first a little fieldwork in Umbria, then some time to research and investigate in Tuscany before having a few days to just enjoy on my own. As usual, with trips of this magnitude, duration and distance, I had several checklists of things I wanted to do before I left, on the plane.
And, per usual, the last “to do before departure” item was left until the hours before bedtime; packing ample healthy snacks for the plane so I didn’t find myself eating a bag of sub-par popcorn available in-flight when the clock read 9am in Rome, but my body thought it was 2 am.
Typically, I pack some amalgamation of this salad (because it is actually better when left unrefrigerated and allowed to marinate), these quinoa patties and this breakfast cake (because they both travel well), a selection of fruits, nuts, and a chocolate bar or two. But, for this trip, I had a bit of inspiration from Sara + Hugh and this blog.
There was a crafty little post on Spicy Lentil Summer Rolls a few weeks back, as the pair were packing snacks to carry on their way to Amsterdam + Belgium; when on the go, high quality vegetables are so challenging to find, and keep me feeling perky so I knew I had to try them.
The process here is simple, but you’ll need to be set up properly and you’ll need to have a bit of breathing space to make the rolls, attentively, from start to finish. I seemed to have a stockpile of chickpeas because I like to make crispy chickpeas with tahini and red pepper to toss into salads and the like (I do promise to share this soon), but didn’t have time to roast and cool them so I just used the beans here without crisping them. I was very happy with the fresh result.
Since then, I’ve enjoyed the fresh inspiration of cooking here in Tuscany and look forward to sharing some new tricks and recipes soon! -xo L
- 8 rice paper wraps (these are typically found in the asian/ethnic food aisles of your grocer)
- 1/2 cup cilantro sprigs
- 1 1/4 cup grated carrots
- 1 1/4 cup grated beets
- 1 large avocado, sliced lengthwise
- 1 can organic chickpeas, drained + rinsed
- 2 Tbsp tahini
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1-2 Tbsp crushed red pepper flakes
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1 Tbsp sesame oil
- 2 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds (optional)
- pinch of salt (and maybe pepper to taste)
- The set up of your workspace is the most important element of this recipe; once you have a sensible workflow, these summer rolls are a snap. You''ll need a large bowl of warm water and a damp dish towel to work on. In separate, smaller bowls, set out your cilantro, carrots, beets, and avocado. Next, in a small mixing bowl, combine the chickpeas with the tahini, lemon, red pepper, cumin, sesame oil and pinch of salt. Adjust the heat and taste as desired - this is the sauce that will flavor the entire roll.
- Now, you're ready to assemble. Working one rice paper at a time, put the wrap flat into the large bowl of warm water, spinning it in your hands to make sure that all parts touch the water but being careful to not let it curl up or break. Once it starts to become pliable (but not TOO soft) you're ready to wrap. This "wetting" of the paper will take just about a minute.
- Lay the wrap down on the dish towel. Then, smack in the middle of the paper you'll place about a scant cup of the chickpeas, a small handful of the beets and carrots, a piece or two of the sliced avocado and a few sprigs of the cilantro. You should have what looks like a little burrito before it is rolled. Fold over the top and bottom ends over the filling, tuck the right flap over and then roll to close. Repeat with remaining wraps.
- I like to place my spring rolls in a bento box to transport them, but you could also wrap them in plastic for easy transport. They are delicious if enjoyed the same day, or the day after, when the chickpea dressing has time to infiltrate the other parts of the roll.