Sunday, June 9, 2013

Asian Sesame Quinoa Spring Rolls

I made Vietnamese Spring Rolls a couple of years ago, but saw this idea and wanted to try quinoa instead of the noodles which I find too bland.  I ramped it up a bit and gave it more taste by marinating the quinoa before wrapping in the rice papers.  This is a nice meat free alternative to a spring roll while still getting some good protein from the quinoa.  Heck, you could even add shrimp or chicken or tofu if you wanted a bit more in there.

Thanks to my old neighbors who willing accepted a dinner invitation to come over for dinner.  Since they are always enthusiastic about whatever I am cooking up, they make very good guests indeed. We assembled these together, occasionally using a piece of wrapper as a "bandage" on a ripped spring roll, laughing about our skills.  Make it fun people.
Hey, you do what you got to do to make it work.
These were a nice appetizer before an Asian Steak Salad that we did for our entree.  More to come on that one, I have to think about that whole recipe before I can post that one... I kind of made it up as I went!

Makes 12-16 rolls
1 cup dry quinoa, cooked per package instructions, cooled
1-2 cups spinach leaves
1/2 English cucumber, cut into very thin strips
1/2 red bell peppers cut into very thin strips
1/2 large carrot, cut into thin strips
1/2 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 bunch cilantro, cut into sprigs
1 cup of bean sprouts, if desired
12-16 Vietnamese rice papers
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
1/3 cup soy sauce (if doing gluten free, look for a gluten free brand!)
2 tsp sesame oil
2 Tbsp garlic red pepper paste (or 2 tsp garlic, crushed and 1 tsp red pepper flakes)
1 Tbsp ginger, grated
1 tsp fish sauce, if desired

Cook the quinoa per the package directions, which is usually 1 cup dry quinoa with 2 cups water.  Bring to a boil, then turn down to simmer, cooking for 15 minutes until the water is absorbed.

Cut all the veggies and set aside on a spring roll "prep" area (see picture below).

Make the sauce/marinade by mixing all the ingredients together.  Half the sauce will be used to flavor the quinoa, the other half will be used for a dipping sauce*.  

Toss the quinoa with half the sauce and start to prep your spring rolls

Bring a small amount of water to a boil in a large, wide saucepan, or stock pot.  
(You need something big enough to dip the rice paper wrappers into- see my pan on the upper right of the photo?)   Quickly dip the rice paper wrappers in the warm water to soften.  Don't worry about getting them super soft, they will continue to soften after you've made your rolls. I've even heard of people doing two wrappers instead of one to cut down on the tearing, but I like the thickness of one wrapper on my spring rolls.

Using a large cutting board, Lay the wrapper flat and fill across the center with spinach, cilantro, carrots, cucumbers, bean sprouts, bell pepper, cilantro and green onion and then a scoop of marinated quinoa. Fold the wrapper inward on the sides and tightly roll.  Check here for step by step pictures.

Serve at once, but also good if made ahead and used for lunches.

*If you have any leftovers, it makes a nice Asian salad dressing by mixing with a little more vegetable oil and tossing with veggies. 

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