How Summer Rolls

As is often my way in August, I look to dishes that require little to no cooking. Sometimes that means relying on leftovers and sometimes that's more of a planned thing … plannedovers, if you will. And dishes like summer rolls do that it in the very best way possible! All you need are some leftovers that need eating, some fresh produce, and - if you're looking to make dinner pretty as well as delicious - some edible flowers.

The batch pictured here features some leftover grilled turkey, nasturtiums and greens from a container outside my office, and fresh veggies from my CSA box and garden. Oh - and some leftover brown rice. I tend to have that around most of the time in summer because I am making so many stir-fries, batches or fried rice, and burritos that I tend to forget to mention it. Oops!

Working with rice paper wrappers takes a bit of practice and I still tend to make one or two "ugly" rolls before I get back into the swing of things. But here's the really good news: you can eat those mistakes and they are every bit as delicious as the rolls that work out! So roll up your sleeves — like you're dealing with sleeves this time of the year — and get ready to roll your leftovers into an amazing meal!

Turkey Summer Rolls

  • 8-10 rice paper wrappers
  • Hot water (not boiling)
  • 1 c. cooked, cooled brown rice
  • 1 c. cooked, shredded turkey, chicken, or pork
  • 1 sweet bell pepper, seeded and sliced into thin strips
  • 1 small cucumber, sliced into thin coins
  • 1 c. chopped pea pods
  • Assorted edible flowers and greens

Prepare an assemble station as follows: Set the rice wrappers in a space free of water or other ingredients so they remain rigid until you are ready to use them. Pour 1-2 inches of very hot, but not boiling water into a wide, shallow dish. I use a glass pie plate. Place a flat surface like a clean cutting board or large plate alongside the dish with the water. Set containers with the remaining ingredients alongside the cutting board or large plate.

To assemble a summer roll, carefully slide 1 rice paper wrapper into the hot water. When the texture on the wrapper disappears, carefully lift the wrapper out of the water and gently place on your chosen work surface. I like to use my fingers for this, as other tools tend to rip the delicate wrapper.

Choose from among the assembled ingredients to create custom fillings, making sure to avoid using more than about 1/3-cup of filling in total. Carefully fold the top and bottom of the wrapper over the filling and then roll the sides over, working from one side to the other. The sticky wrapper will stick to itself and keep the roll closed. Repeat with the remaining wraps and set the rolls on a serving platter or tray.

Serve with assorted dipping sauces, hot sauces, and/or sesame seeds.

  • Yields: 3-5 servings
  • Preparation Time: 15 minutes