I know that it may sound non-BBQ-ish, but these spring rolls are what I ate on the 4th of July. At least the eggplant is grilled, right? 😉 Before this, I had never made spring rolls, on my own. Earlier this year, I bought a large pack of rice paper with the intention of trying it out, but it took about 2 months of staring it down (totally intimidated) to even take it out of the cupboard.
It wasn’t until I had dinner with my good friend Annie at Au Lac, that I was inspired to make it happen. She ordered this crazy assemble-your-own spring roll plate, complete with hot water/rice paper holder dish (clearly a technical term), and I saw just how simple they are to make. It turns out, that Annie makes them at home all of the time! She suggested adding coconut milk to the warm water in which you dip the rice paper; which got me super excited.
Fast forward to last Thursday, when I searched my fridge for some veggies to create a super tasty set of rolls for myself. I knew I wanted something savory and smoky to go with my fresh herbs and crunchy carrots; maybe a little heat, too. Marinated and grilled eggplant ended up being the perfect solution! I love eggplant, but I buy and use it MAYBE every 6 months. Pathetic, really.
So, if you were ever a little worried about making spring rolls being something that is labor intensive and kind of hard, fear no longer! Give these a try for a light lunch or as an appetizer for a couple of friends. I can’t wait to experiment some more with this!
Life has been a little odd lately. There are times of constantly feeling like I’m super busy and occupied, then lulls where I become so overwhelmed that I just sit and do nothing. Now, that doesn’t happen to often, although I know it’s good to take some breaks to relieve stress. But, in the midst of it all, I’ve rekindled my romance with fresh summer produce and the flavor and colors it brings to the table.
I recently went to my local Farmers Market and was greeted with an array of colors and scents. So many beautiful tomatoes and an assortment of stone fruit beckoned me to take them home, I wish I had room for everything! After buying some fresh nectarines, tomatoes, freshly baked Gilroy Garlic Sourdough (!), sprouts and a couple of other things, I headed back home feeling quite satisfied with my purchases.
Food isn’t the only thing that inspires me (contrary to what I may talk about on here ALL of the time ;)). With the great weather that Southern California has been having lately, despite the increasing temperatures and humidity, I’ve been finding myself outdoors more and more; staying active by riding mountain bikes and doing my fair share of hiking. I’m always surprised by the views and scenery that Orange County has to offer, especially considering that I feel like I’m surrounded by concrete most of the time.
When I’m not outside, I’m back in the kitchen playing with new recipes and trying to eat a little healthier. I just bought two huge bunches of Lacinato Kale and was figuring out how to incorporate some more greens into my dinner without getting my hands too dirty. I happen to have some basil on hand as well as some lemons and an assortment of seeds and nuts to choose from. Pesto it was! But, I chose raw pepitas to experiment with. Success!
I told you that there would be tons of zucchini recipes coming your way! This time, I was craving some fried zucchini; my mom got me hooked on fried zucchini when I was a kid, and now that I can’t just go out and get it at any ol’ restaurant it always sounds so good. But, I refrained from frying them, because the last time that I did I was dumbfounded by how much oil actually stays in the zucchini fries. (duh!)
So, I broke out the panko crumbs and invited a couple of girlfriends over for some baked zucchini sticks and brews (gotta even out the void that the oil left ;)). What a smarter person would have done is look up a recipe like what I was trying to accomplish and change it up a bit to their liking, but at least have a solid foundation. What I did was go into this without doing any of that and used my instinct and knowledge of ingredients to make something that was at the very least edible.
Do not fear, because not only were these zucchini sticks edible, they were delicious even without the savory, spicy queso dip that we poured onto them. The only thing I regretted not doing with this recipe was making more of them. They disappeared in mere minutes! (We were very hungry)
Crunchy baked zucchini sticks paired with a creamy, spicy queso dip makes for an awesome appetizer!
1½ lbs. Zucchini, Cut into ½" wide x 4" long sticks
⅓ Cup Hot Water
1 Tbsp. Ground Flaxseed
1 Tbsp. Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 Cup or So Panko Crumbs
Salt & Pepper
¾ Cup Unsweetened Almond Milk
6 Tbsp. Nutritional Yeast
2 Tbsp. Diced Green Chiles
½ Cup Finely Diced Tomatoes
½ tsp. Dried Cilantro
½ tsp. Salt
¼ tsp. Onion Powder
⅛ tsp. Cayenne Pepper
Stir the ground flaxseed and AP flour together in a small cup, add the hot water in gradually so that the flour does not clump. Once fully mixed, pour into a shallow bowl and let sit for 3-5 minutes to thicken.
Cover the surface of a small plate with panko crumbs until it is roughly ¼" deep; sprinkle a couple of pinches of onion powder, salt and pepper over the crumbs.
Preheat the oven to 375°F and get a large baking sheet ready for placing the zucchini sticks.
Submerge the zucchini sticks, one at a time, into the flaxseed mixture and make sure to cover all sides. Next, press the zucchini into the panko mixture until all sides are crusted with crumbs.
Repeat crusting steps until all zucchini is used and place the breaded zucchini sticks on the baking sheet roughly 1-1/2" apart.
Bake zucchini for 7 minutes on each side of the stick (almost 30 minutes).
While those are in the oven, in a small pot, bring the almond milk to a boil.
Once boiling, add in the remainder of the ingredients and still until the nutritional yeast has dissolved.
Lower heat to low-medium and simmer for 5 minutes, taste the sauce and add salt and pepper to your liking. Serve the sauce warm with the zucchini sticks straight from the oven.
I’ve been pretty sick the past few days, sinuses started acting up and it all went down hill from there; so, I’ve been eating a little cleaner and healthier trying to get my body back on track. That, coupled with the fact that I have zucchini coming out of my ears from my two plants in the garden, means that I’ll be having a lot of zucchini noodles! Well, I’ll be using the zucchini in more ways than that, but spiralizing it into noodles is so damn easy (and healthy!).
Usually, I would make a fast and easy tomato sauce to top these refreshing noodles, but this time I wanted to keep it raw and make it a tad more substantial. With the addition of raw cashews to the mix, the sauce is still light but creamy and has a little more protein. I also added sun-dried tomatoes for a hearty flavor with more depth. This dish uses great seasonal ingredients, comes together in mere minutes, and is great for the warm weather coming up in the next couple of months.
This is a vegan food blog, run by Jackie Sobon, that covers everything from indulgent desserts, to healthy dinners, and even raw recipes! I also write up restaurant reviews and am sort of a beer snob. You'll find that there is something for everyone, here!
If you would like to contact me about photography jobs, recipe or menu development, or just have a question you'd like me to answer email me at: [email protected]!