“Indian summer” garden rolls with spicy almond sauce
Summer may have officially ended on Saturday, but those of us in San Francisco know it’s just getting started! Welcome to Indian summer – that special time of year where Karl the Fog goes on vacation and we are free to celebrate in the skimpy duds we normally reserve for trips outside of city limits.
Last Thursday, on just such a balmy evening (meaning above the usual 65 degrees) I was invited to do a cooking demo at a celebration for the anniversary of the Tenderloin rooftop garden at Curran house. If you’ve spent any time in the Tenderloin, tender greens probably aren’t the first thing you think of when picturing the typical offerings of this neighborhood. And yet everything from chard to fennel to tomatoes were flourishing in this beautiful 9th floor garden. I was there to show the members of this community and it’s supporters how to create something simple and tasty that utilizes the fresh ingredients growing up there, and in honor of this most fabulous time of year, I decided to make “Indian summer” garden rolls with a spicy almond sauce.
Below I will post the recipe that I created for the event, but think of those spring roll wrappers as the perfect blank canvas for you to take whatever you have growing in your garden, or chilling in your crisper and riff. I’ve been making these in different iterations all summer to combat the bounty of herbs that were overtaking my garden - sometimes purely veggie, other times with Hodo Soy 5-spice nuggets, in Hawaii we added mango (delish) and the use of jalapeño just depended on how spicy I was feeling that day. I found a brown rice version of the traditional bahn trang wrappers at the fabulous Rainbow grocery and those have been in play ever since.
You should also feel free to tinker with the spicy almond sauce. Use what ever nut butter you prefer (I used a local favorite) and dial in the salt as needed. You can also pull back on the sriracha or squeeze enough in to make your head explode (if you’re into that sort of thing). No judgement.
“Indian summer” garden rolls recipe
makes 8 rolls
one package bahn trang (spring roll wrappers)
one head of soft leaf lettuce torn into bite size pieces
leaves from 1 small bunch basil
leaves from 1 small bunch mint
leaves from 1 small bunch cilantro
2 – 3 carrots peeled into thin strips
2 avocados cut into thin slices
2 yellow peppers cut into thin strips
2/3 cup slivered almonds
1 jalapeño very thinly sliced (test spice level as jalapeños are inconsistent)
spicy almond sauce
makes 2/3 c
4 tbsp almond butter
2 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp water
2 tbsp mirin
2 tbsp honey
2 tsp sriracha
1 tsp sesame oil
kosher salt to taste (depends on saltiness of nut butter)
mix all until thick and well blended
To assemble the summer rolls, quickly dip one wrapper into a large shallow pan filled with warm water until it’s entire surface has come in contact with the water. Set slightly damp wrapper on flat surface and in the middle of the wrapper place a few pieces of lettuce, as well as a small handful of herbs, veggies, slices from 1/4 avocado, a generous sprinkle of almonds and a pinch of sea salt – you’ll want to work quickly so the wrapper is still pliable but not tearing. Roll it like you would a burrito by folding in the sides of the wrapper and then rolling it up from top to bottom. There should be enough filling so that you have to work to keep it all in the wrapper as you roll it up. Repeat until all are formed. Serve with spicy almond sauce for dipping.
Photos by Bess Friday and Lauren Godfrey.