There are three weeks left in the school year. The littlest chef is starting end-of-grade testing on Friday, and she’s now busy most school nights with puppy training, guitar lessons or swim team practice/meets. We’re in a very hectic cycle, and there are two things that are not negotiable, especially with the testing and the physical activity on the agenda: nutrition and sleep. So, I’ve ramped up my already manic menu planning system to have dinner on the table even faster than my typical 30-40 minutes after walking in the door. To do this, I’ve settled into a routine of occasionally cooking two meals at once — one for immediate consumption and the second for the next night. If you peruse my menu planning calendars (see links at left), you’ll see that I’ve started mapping out not just the nightly menu but also what advance prep I’m doing for other nights. I’m finding this very helpful.
Another great help is a menu like tonight’s menu (summer rolls, cold sesame noodles, steamed snap peas from our garden), which is served cold or at room temperature. The summer rolls take advantage of what I consider to be the Vietnamese version of the cajun holy trinity: fresh mint, cilantro and basil. When I’ve got all three growing in my herb garden, I can’t get enough of summer rolls. They’re a fresh, vibrant salad in a tidy handheld package, and they can be made with or without protein. The ones I made for tonight include thin strips of smoked chicken breast. Cooked shrimp and baked tofu are other great options.
Vietnamese Holy Trinity
mint, cilantro and basil
Summer Roll Filling
lettuce, Napa cabbage, radiccio, radishes, carrots, sweet red pepper, herbs
Rice Paper Wrappers
Wrapper Soaking in Warm Water
A pie plate is the perfect size!
Softened Wrapper on Kitchen Towel
The kitchen towel is essential to frustration-free rolling!
Voila! One Roll
sesame noodles, summer roll, steamed snap peas from our garden
If you haven’t ever given these a go, they are worth a try! They’re a lot easier than you probably think! In my opinion, the trick is laying the softened wrapper on a kitchen towel before filling and rolling. The towel provides a little traction for spreading out the wrapper without any sticking. Good luck and enjoy!