Tofu Spring Rolls
When I moved to Chicago from sunny California I expected two things: mind numbing cold and buckets of snow. Before moving to Chicago people actually told me that there were ropes attached to the buildings to keep me from blowing away during Chicago’s notorious icy windy days.
While I haven’t come across any ropes on buildings yet, I still have this ingrained expectation that if I walk outside between January and May my ear might just freeze off.
Somehow in this already very wacky year, we have managed to bypass winter all together. Just like the trees and flowers that didn’t quite get killed off in the cold and snow this winter, I am ready to bloom and thrive in the sunshine and warmth earlier than the usual springtime wakeup call.
Warm weather in Chicago for me means walking to Lake Michigan at night to escape the stifling humidity of an old apartment with no AC, biking at 2 AM down quiet roads that usually are filled with honking cars, a new festival to attend every day, and every single person in the city spending every free moment they have outside under the sun, blanketed in warmth.
Eating something light, refreshing and simple is absolutely essential to the spring/summer vibe and spring rolls are the perfect match for the warm weather aesthetic.
Tangy, marinated tofu adds spice and flavor, raw vegetables provide a cool crunch, and hints of mint keep this warm weather meal light and refreshing. While these tofu spring rolls can be eaten plain, I thoroughly enjoy sauces, so a sweet peanut sauce can be paired with them.
While it may not be summer yet, these easily transportable and shareable vegan tofu spring rolls can carry you through spring and summer and be eaten as a light snack or enjoyed as a full meal.
Get ready for warm weather and healthy living with the recipe below.
Tofu Spring Rolls
(makes 4 large rolls or 8 small ones)
- 1/2 14oz pack of extra firm tofu
- 4-8 spring roll wrappers
- 2 carrots
- 1 cucumber
- 1 bunch of mint leaves
- 1 bunch of cilantro
- 2 serrano peppers (optional)
- 2 cups of thin rice noodles
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1 tbsp hoisin
- 1/2 tbsp chili oil
Sweet Peanut Sauce
- 1 cup unsalted peanuts
- 1/2 cup rice vinegar
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 1/2 cup of olive oil
- 1 tbsp honey or agave
- juice from 1 lime
- Heat a large skillet on medium heat. Add one tablespoon of olive oil into the skillet. Slice tofu into 1 inch wide, 3 inch long pieces. This should make about 8 slices. Place the tofu slices into the skillet and allow them to cook until firm and slightly brown.
- Mix soy sauce, hoisin and chili oil together in a bowl. Once tofu is almost done cooking, add soy sauce mixture to the tofu and coat thoroughly until slightly sticky. Remove tofu from heat and set aside for spring roll prep.
- Cook rice noodles according to package instructions. Set aside in cool water once cooked. If you want to add a little extra flavor, toss the rice noodles in the skillet that cooked the tofu so that the noodles are coated in the leftover soy sauce mixture. This entirely optional.
- Shave carrot with a potato peeler into thin strips and julienne cucumber. Slice serrano peppers into thin round pieces.
- Place peanuts, warm water, lime juice, honey or agave, and rice vinegar in a food processor and blend until smooth to create the sweet peanut sauce. Add more honey or agave if you want the sauce to be sweeter.
- Quickly dip your rice paper in a large bowl with warm water. You don't want your paper to be too saturated because it makes it difficult to roll your spring rolls. I am admittedly, pretty bad at rolling spring rolls. If you are too, here's a tutorial that helped me.
- Place your mint, cilantro, serrano peppers, carrots, and cucumber down on the moistened spring roll wrapper first. If you want to make small spring rolls, place one tofu slice on the top of the pile. If you want to make larger ones, place two. Top the ingredient pile with your cooled rice noodles and roll spring rolls tightly, according to instructions.
- Serve tofu spring rolls with sweet peanut dipping sauce.