Day 22. The final day of this month's foray into salad making. During this month, my family and I tasted our way through full meal salads, on to simple sides, flavours from other parts of the world, easy lunch salads and flavour explosions. Today's offering, as a means of wrapping things up, is to say that salad doesn't need to be served on a plate or a bowl; you don't need to use utensils. Why when the weather is scorching, and you're looking for something fun to make for dinner, think of these salad rolls! Easy peasy lemon squeezie.
First things first. As there were again only two of us here at home, my little opted to have her favourite sweet chili sauce (a bottled version). I opted for a revisit of the peanut dressing from the Orchid Lime Salad from Whitewater Cooks, as the flavour was explosive and I just couldn't help myself. It seems a good salad roll needs a good substantial thick dressing in which to dip, and a zingy one at that. This one fits the bill to a T.
As most salad rolls come with some delicious slurpy noodles in them, I opted to pick up some Shirataki noodles while at the Korean and Japanese Grocery Store down on 10th Ave at 14th Street in the SW. These noodles are so easy to prepare: just dump in a strainer straight from the package, and rinse them out. And voila, they're ready to use up! They're a low-carb option for those who watch these kinds of things; me, I'm just looking for something quick and easy. They're made of a specific type of yam, and are quite high in fibre. They really have no taste, so lend themselves well to something like these salad rolls, especially if you have a tangy slurpy peanut mess of a sauce to bathe it all in.
Next, I sliced and chopped a variety of veggies we had on hand. This is quite reminiscent of the piles of ingredients I had on the Vietnamese Noodle Bowl salad day; it's the same concept. Each person gets to make their own salad rolls and the rule in our house is that you have to include at least 3 different vegetables. So in our piles on the butcher block were: arugula, pea sprouts, lettuce, radishes, carrots, cucumber, red cabbage, green onion, celery and yellow peppers. Not seen: black sesame seeds. What should have been included: cooked shrimp. They're delicious in something like this, but I forgot to defrost them in time. Also delicious in this would have been some avocado. You could also add some shredded nori crackers, or a smidge of kimchi or some other ferment in the midst of the pile-o-veg. It's up to you.
Next up, you prepare a big bowl of warm water, and you prep your rice papers (I prefer round ones for this). You soak one rice paper at a time, and really no longer than a count of 3. When you take it out of the water, it will seem improbable that it will ever bend enough, but by the time you load the paper up with your fixings, it will be flexible enough and not over-soaked. This way, it will hold the ingredients together much better and be less prone to ripping.
Pile your ingredients one on top of the other in a mound in the centre of your paper, sprinkle on some seeds at the end. Tuck two sides of the paper in just to close off the ends, and then roll your rice paper up like a big cigar.
This is where you can have some fun: you can mix those noodles in with a sauce like the one I used for dipping, or a soy-sesame concoction or something, or even a roasted red pepper kind of dip in order to add flavour. This is an incredibly versatile recipe. We both rolled four salad rolls each; I finished mine because I couldn't help myself, but my little lady stopped short of the last one. These are also good things to pull together to bring potluck style to someone's house; my good friend Erica does this all the time, and they are always the favourite item on the buffet table.
And that will do it, my friends! A big thank you to my parents who were the originators of month-of-salads: my parents and we four kidlets tended our vegetable patches every summer in our back yard and at our farm or our cottage, in fact they still do. My dad just received his Master Gardener designation! And my mom is the original Salad Queen, I owe my love of veggies to her. I thank the local suppliers that time and again inspire me to play with my food, and a big thanks go to my two honeys for putting up with these salad trials. I hope to post a compendium of my month of salads in the next day or so, be sure to check in to this 'posts' page and mark it for future reference, or share with ones you think would dig the recipes. I'm all ears as to other topics you'd like to cover in these monthly-type of food escapades, drop a comment below and I'll consider it! And let me know how you get on with these salads, or others you've come across that have caught your fancy.
And people, for goodness sake, GO PLAY WITH YOUR FOOD.