Last weekend the air was filled with the sounds of revving engines as it was Grand Prix weekend and all the Formula 1 cars were blowing smoke around Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. Even though we live a good 20 kilometers from the racetrack, I can hear the cars from my own backyard. As Noah and I got dirty in the garden under the warm sun, I tried to think of another sound that signaled the start of summer in Montreal, but the F1 cars seemed pretty significant.
Every year around here we ask each other "It's Grand Prix all ready??" as if we can't believe the spring rains are finally over and the summer is here for a while.
For those hot days where you don't want to turn the oven on or even stand over a barbeque, there are spring rolls- or summer rolls as some of us call them. (I've even been known to call them 'clean-out-the-fridge-rolls' when they end up being way to use up scrap vegetables). They are refreshing, enjoyable to make and usually disappear as fast as I can roll them around here!
If you've always had spring rolls just with peanut sauce, you must try this avocado puree for something different. It's rich and feels almost decadent, but is simple to make. Make sure the avocado flesh is void of any brown parts.
12 medium shrimp, (about 6 ounces), peeled and deveined
3 ounces rice vermicelli
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
Salt to taste
16 round 8-inch rice-paper wrappers
1 medium carrot, peeled and julienned
1/4 cup packed fresh mint leaves
2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh basil leaves, preferably Thai,
2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh cilantro leaves,
1 mango, peeled, seeded, and julienned
Juice of 1 lime
6 ounces (about 16 spears) pencil asparagus, blanched and trimmed to about 4 inches
micro chives, for garnish
- Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Reduce to a simmer. Add shrimp; cook until pink and cooked through, about 2 minutes. Slice cooked shrimp in half lengthwise. Cool, then toss with lime juice and a few pinches of salt. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, cover rice vermicelli with hot water by 2 inches; let soak for 10 minutes. Drain, and rinse under cold water. Toss with basil, cilantro, rice vinegar and sesame oil. Set aside.
- Have all ingredients ready for rolling the spring rolls: carrot, mango, seasoned rice noodles, shrimp, asparagus and mint leaves.
- Fill a dish or your kitchen sink with warm water. Working with 1 rice-paper wrapper at a time, soak in water for 30 seconds; immediately lay flat on a damp towel. Smooth to remove wrinkles, than fold up the bottom quarter toward the top. Working with your hands, place about two tablespoons of the rice noodles on the folded up part of the wrapper. Place a few asparagus spears, carrot, mango and shrimp on top of the noodles. Add a mint leaf slightly above the rest of the filling.
- Fold sides of the wrapper in toward the middle and roll the summer roll up, keeping the filling tightly pressed together. Tuck a few mini chives in to the side before you roll it all the way. Place roll on a plate and cover with a damp towel
- Repeat with remaining rice-paper sheets and filling. Chill summer rolls until ready to serve. Slice summer rolls in half to show the vibrant colors inside and serve with avocado puree or peanut sauce.
1 ripe avocado
2 Tablespoons whole milk
salt to taste
Divide avocado in half and remove seed. With a spoon, scoop out flesh in to a glass measuring cup. Add milk and using a hand held blender, blend until smooth. Try to keep the blades submerged at all times so as to incorporate as little air as possible. Season with salt, cover top with plastic wrap and refrigerate until used. May keep up to six hours before starting to discolor.