I love fresh spring rolls are much as the next kinda-sorta millennial, but not all the work that goes into actually making them. While I’ve become more of a pro at the process over the last few years, it’s still work. Which means that I’ve got 6 packages of unopened spring roll wrappers in my pantry that I easily glance over when thinking about dinner that night.
This salad tastes just like your favorite spring rolls, with none of the work. Well, a little bit of work- you still have to make the components- but none of the frustrations that come with ripped wrappers, overstuffed rolls and soggy messes.
It’s a win-win; or as I like to call it, flavor without frustration.
I was introduced to Vietnamese food through the one restaurant in my hometown that served it. This was in the late 80’s/early 90’s and I thought I had hit the jackpot when my dad would suggest going there. Vietnamese food wasn’t exactly mainstream and it was tucked away in a tiny strip-mall on the other side of town. It was so exotic, a complete departure from the meals that my mom would normally make, a rotating mix of Danish, Italian and basic American cuisine.
We always started the meal off with fresh spring rolls and I would savor my single roll as much as I could. I had quite the process, a small bite covered in as much peanut sauce as possible, then repeat until finished. I’m fairly certain that I went through an entire cup of sauce for one roll, but who’s counting?
These salad bowls start with a layer of vermicelli, or thinly cooked rice noodles. I suppose you could sub out angel hair pasta in a pinch, but the texture of rice noodles is so different that it’s worth seeking out.
Then, we cover those with fresh cucumbers, carrots and lettuce. You could also use shredded napa cabbage if you wanted a heartier green. For protein, I’m relying on baked tofu, using my technique of baking the tofu in the oven with a bit of olive oil and starch so it becomes crispy without the need for frying.
Of course, no spring roll bowl would be complete without a generous serving of peanut sauce. This one is similar to the dipping sauce that I remember as a kid, a little savory and a little tangy with just an undercurrent of heat.
Mix it all together, give thanks that this meal didn’t involve actual spring roll wrappers and dig in.
If you try this recipe, let me know! Leave a comment, rate it, and tag your Instagram photos with #delishknowledge . I absolutely love seeing your creations. Happy cooking!
Vietnamese Spring Roll Salad with Crispy Tofu
Vietnamese Spring Roll Salad! Just like spring rolls with a fraction of the work. If you love vermicelli bowls at Vietnamese restaurants, you've gotta try this gluten-free and vegan version.
- 1 block extra firm tofu, pressed and cubed
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce (tamari for gluten-free version)
- 1 tablespoon arrowroot powder/cornstarch
- 3 tablespoons peanut butter
- 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
- 3 tablespoons lime juice
- 2 teaspoons garlic chili sauce
- 2 tablespoons hot water
Spring Roll Salad:
- 8 ounces vermicelli noodles (thin rice noodles)
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 cup matchstick carrots (or shredded carrots)
- 2 cups thinly sliced romaine lettuce
- 1 cup julienned cucumber
- 1/2 cup chopped mint leaves
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves
- 1/2 cup chopped basil leaves
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Toss tofu cubes with olive oil and soy sauce until coated. Then, toss with arrowroot powder and toss again to combine. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast until crispy, turning once during baking, 25-30 minutes.
- While the tofu is cooking, whisk together the ingredients for the peanut dressing and set aside.
- Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil and add the vermicelli noodles. Cook until just al dente according to package directions, then rinse well under cold water. Toss with sesame oil and set aside.
- Right before serving, divide noodles, cucumbers, lettuce, carrots and herbs among 4 bowls. Divide tofu on top along with dressing. Serve immediately.