Nectarine, corn, and basil summer rolls

For today’s lunch, I decided to do what real chefs do–go the the farmer’s market (farm stand in my case) and buy what’s fresh. Then roll it in rice wrappers for dipping into a peanut sauce.

You can put just about anything into a rice wrapper, just show a bit of restraint to avoid overfilling it. Choosing ingredients with different textures (crunchy, toothsome, soft), and adding a fresh herb (basil, mint, cilantro), and serving with a dipping sauce make it all work.

Nectarine, corn, and basil summer rolls
Peanut dipping sauce

This prep took about an hour, but it could be much faster if you use all raw ingredients or cooked vegetables on hand. First, you’ll need to get some rice wrappers. These are available at Whole Foods, Asian food markets, and lots of online shops. They come in different sizes, and the ones I found were 6 1/2 inches in diameter. Ones a bit larger work well, too.

Some variations: Summer rolls would be nice with sliced pickled jalapenos, sweet potato, marinated or grilled tofu, grilled zucchini, asparagus….

Nectarine, corn, and basil summer rolls
Rice wrappers
1/2 pound green beans
1 cucumber or 3 Persian or pickling cucumbers
1 ear of corn
half of a 15-ounce block of extra firm tofu, rinsed and sliced into 12 strips
1 nectarine, sliced
basil leaves, 24 leaves for rolls, plus more for garnish

1. Fill a medium-size pot with water and a teaspoon of salt and bring to a boil. Wash the green beans, snap off the ends, and put into the boiling water. Cook until a fork goes into a bean easily, about 2 minutes. Pour out the water and fill the pot with cold water and ice cubes. When beans are cool, drain the water and wrap them with a towel to dry. Take a look at the length and trim them if needed–you want beans that are at least 2 inches shorter than the diameter of the rice wrappers.

2. Cook corn in your preferred way. I shuck it and remove the silk, put it on a dinner plate, put water in the plate, cover with a paper towel, microwave for 1:45 minutes, turn over and microwave again for 1:45 minutes. Carefully remove the plate to avoid spilling water everywhere. When cool, cut the corn from the cob.

3. If using a standard cucumber, peel it, slice it in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds with a small spoon. If using Persian or pickling cucumbers, you can skip the peeling and seeding. Cut the cucumber into thin strips. The length of the strips should be at least 2 inches less than the diameter of the rice wrappers.

4. Put all your fillings on a plate or cutting board. Fill a pie pan or flat-bottomed bowl with warm water. Have in front of you either a dinner plate or cutting board for a work surface and a plate or platter for the rolls.

5. To make each roll, slide the wrapper into the water, then put it on your work surface. It will feel like a plastic disc and will quickly soften as you fill it. On the wrapper, about 1 inch from the edge, put one strip of tofu, one or more strips of cucumber, 3 green beans, a sprinkling of rice, a slice of nectarine, and top with basil leaves, then roll it like a burrito: first roll the edge away from you to cover the fillings, then flip up each of the sides toward the middle, then roll until the edge furthest from you is rolled up.

6. Repeat until you have 12 rolls or the desired amount. Serve with peanut sauce or dipping sauce of your choice.
 Serves 2-3 people as a main dish lunch, more people as an appetizer or first course.

Peanut sauce
adapted from Mollie Katzen’s The Vegetable Dishes I Can’t Live Without. This recipe makes much more than what you need for the summer rolls, so make only half this receipe if you do not want extra sauce.
1 cup peanut butter
1 1/2 TBS brown sugar
1 cup hot water
2 TBS soy sauce or tamari
1 1/2 tsp crushed or finely minced garlic
2 tsp finely minced ginger (optional)
2 tsp cider vinegar
cayenne pepper to taste (I used 1/16 tsp for a hint of spice)
salt to taste

Combine peanut butter, sugar, and water in medium-size bowl. Add all other ingredients and mix well. Keeps for 1 week in the refrigerator.

Finish the meal with fresh watermelon.


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