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summer rolls

Veggie Summer Rolls with Crispy Tofu

Veggie Summer Rolls with Crispy Tofu

There are two times when I really miss having a TV. One is when any of the major tennis championships are airing. In this case, Twitter is giving me the play-by-play, which becomes more annoying than missing the match all together. The other time is when I get home from a long day and want to do nothing else but mindlessly flip on the Food Network. Like the Bachelorette has become for certain boys I know (yes, boys), the Food Network was once my dirty little secret. I knew the personalities of every one of the networks’ celebs. I acted like Giada and I were friends, and like Ina Garten would one day invite me to one of her fancy dinner parties. I even got suckered into the crazy reality game shows, which are rarely ever my thing.

A year ago I moved into a new apartment, and with it I got rid of my cable bill. What came next was ridding myself of my Food Network obsession. No more cooking sessions spent in front of a screen watching other people’s cooking sessions. No more drooling over greasy Diner, Drive-Ins and Dives eats — most of which, in reality, I’d never actually want to order. (Also, no more gagging over the way Guy Fieri would inhale those eats himself. Thank god.) No more tensing and clenching from watching people compete over…cupcakes. No more going to bed on an empty stomach from too much food-filled TV. No more Food Network.

While my withdrawal symptoms were brief, I still have a guilty pleasure for the Food Network. Any time I’m near a powered on TV, I try to get the FN on the screen. My mom will tell you, if I’m at her house at night, it’s on, meaning she’s often forced to bear some anxiety through an episode of Chopped.

Veggie Summer Rolls with Crispy Tofu

I visited my mom this past Wednesday, and yes, to her slight displeasure, we watched an episode of Chopped. One of the secret ingredients was spring roll wrappers. A competitor on the show decided to cut them up into noodles. Creative, I thought. But like half of what I see on the Food Network, something I’d never do myself. Spring roll wrappers are just too good in their traditional use of packaging up ingredients that I have little desire to transform them into noodles. I do, however, have a strong and frequent desire to utilize them for summer rolls.

These are my favorite. I order them nearly every time I’m at a spot that serves them, and I try to make the rolls at least a few times per summer on my own, when my ingredients are fresh.

Like the Food Network, they are a pleasure (though not a guilty one) of mine. Working with the rice paper takes some getting used to, but it’s not rocket science by any means. Don’t worry about forming the perfect roll. As long as you’ve got a mix of fresh ingredients sealed inside, you’re good to go.

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Tofu Vegetable Summer Rolls

I’m not sure what I’m more excited about – the summer-like weather we’ve been having here in Philadelphia or the fact that I’ve discovered summer rolls can be successfully made at home. Unsurprisingly, the warm, dreamy weather had me laying outside, daydreaming of cool, fresh eats. My mind quickly wandered to summer rolls, one of my favorite Vietnamese-inspired eats, perfect for warm weather when you want something light.

After a trip to Whole Foods, I became a tad skeptical about how these would turn out. I knew all of the ingredients going inside wouldn’t let me down. But the WF man who directed me to the rice paper wrappers didn’t do much to boost my confidence about the item that would become their envelope. He told me that rice paper wrappers are tricky and wished me luck as I went my ways (flocking to the Kombucha aisle, of course). Luckily, the man was wrong. With a bowl of warm water and little finesse, rice paper wrappers really aren’t tricky at all. A little sticky, yes, and your results might not appear restaurant-perfect, but who cares. Eating at home is all about finding your own creativity anyways, which for me, included sautéed tofu in these summer rolls. Delish.

Click here for recipe…