Fresh Spring Rolls with Herbs & Crispy Tofu

Monday, June 1, 2015

Fresh spring roll by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

I suppose it's possible that there's something fresher and more flavorful than these spring rolls but if so, I have yet to encounter it.

The combination of fresh basil, cilantro and mint, cool, crispy cucumbers, sweet, crunchy carrots, crispy fried tofu and a sweet, spicy peanut sauce that you get in each bite is a kind of mind-altering experience.

Ingredients for the fresh spring rolls by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

And they are just as much fun to make as they are to eat, too - a perfect, summer dinner party food.

Lay out all the ingredients on the table - thinly sliced cucumbers and carrots, crispy tofu slices, fresh basil, mint and cilantro, sliced scallions, lettuce, and rice vermicelli. And peanut sauce, lots and lots of gingery, spicy, sweet, savory peanut sauce - if space allows, I put out several bowls so people can reach it more easily. I'm also a huge fan of hoisin sauce so I always include that, too.

Ingredients for the fresh spring rolls by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

I also found the most delicious, delicate little pea shoots at the first farmer's market of the season on Wednesday so I put those out, too.

Pea shoots by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

Set out a big bowl of very hot water to soften the rice wrappers in and be prepared to refill it once or twice. If you're really tight on space they make these little space-saving rice wrap soaker deals.

Rice wrappers and bean threads by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

There's usually a little jockeying for position at the water bowl to get the wrappers softened but then it's off to the races we go! Everyone creates their own spring rolls, adding as much (or as little) of this or that as they please. You could also make a ton of these ahead of time to serve as appetizers at a summer party.

Rolling the fresh spring roll by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

These are a crowd pleaser and a perfect meal for the kind of hot, muggy weather we've been having this week. They are tasty with shrimp in place of the tofu and also very good without either one, too.

Here's how I roll:
  1. Lay the softened wrapper out on your plate and plop your fillings in a neat pile at one end - as with a burrito, don't try to load too much in there at once.
  2. Use your fingers to tuck the fillings in as you begin to roll the thin rice paper "skin" over the top.
  3. Complete one full roll over the top and then flip the sides in to create your closed edges.
  4. Keep on rolling until you're there. Eat. Repeat.
Rolling up a fresh spring roll

-- print recipe --
Fresh Spring Rolls with Herbs & Crispy Tofu
Serves 4

Ingredients

* 1 package of firm tofu
* 3 carrots, peeled and julienned or thinly sliced
* 1 large cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced
* 3 scallions, washed, trimmed and sliced into long, thin strips
* 1 cup of fresh basil leaves, washed and dried
* 1 cup of fresh mint leaves, washed and dried
* 1 cup of fresh cilantro leaves, washed and dried
* Several cups of lettuce leaves, washed and dried
* 2 cups of bean sprouts or pea sprouts
* 1 small package of rice or bean vermicelli, cooked and drained according to the directions on the package
* 1 package of large rice paper wrappers
* 1/2 cup peanut or grapeseed oil for frying the tofu
* A big  batch of peanut sauce
* Hoisin sauce

Directions

1. Make the peanut sauce. Do this ahead of time to give the flavors time to develop.

2. Drain the tofu by opening the package and putting the block of tofu under something solid and heavy - I usually use a cutting board with a full kettle of water balanced on top.

3. Prep all the veggies - this takes some time since there's a bunch of washing, drying, slicing and dicing but it's worth it. Put them all in the bowls or plates you will serve them in.

4. Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large cast iron or stainless steel skillet and fry the tofu (you may have to do this in batches depending on the size of your pan), flipping once, until it's puffy and golden brown then turn them out onto a brown paper bag to drain. Once the tofu is cool enough to handle, transfer it to a serving plate or bowl.

5. Bring a pot of water to the boil and prepare the rice vermicelli - it's very quick - usually just a few minutes - then drain and set aside in a serving bowl.

6. Put some more water on to boil and lay all your components out on the table.

7. Pour the hot water into a bowl (or two if you can fit them on the table) and call everyone to the table to get rolling.

You might also like:
For more delicious recipes, gardening ideas, foraging tips, and food-related inspiration "like" the Garden of Eating on Facebook, or follow me on Twitter and Pinterest.

Quick, Gingery Peanut Sauce

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Pork & veggie potstickers with brown rice, peanut sauce & pickled cuke salad by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2012

With the obvious exception of people who are deathly allergic to peanuts, I think pretty much everyone loves peanut sauce. I'm always happy when I've made a big batch of it because there are so many ways to use it throughout the week - with tofu, with spring rolls, with broccoli, with rice, with chicken, with shrimp, as the basis for a salad dressing, etc., etc.

Ingredients for the peanut sauce by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

Although I switch it up sometimes (in fact, I am planning to do a little round up of the many peanut sauces I like to make soon), the recipe below is my default option because I love the combination of spicy, salty and sweet. And it's pretty quick, which is very important to me.

Blending the miso peanut sauce in the Cuisinart by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

You take lots of peanut butter, some soy sauce, fresh ginger, garlic, brown sugar, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, roasted red chili paste, and lime juice and put them all in a Cuisinart or blender. Add some hot water and blend until smooth. That's it. Boom! You're done! Well, except that now you have to wash your food processor which is not my favorite task but it's worth it.

Use a natural peanut butter - the ingredients should be either just peanuts or peanuts and salt. Make a lot. Enjoy!

Peanut sauce by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

-- print recipe --Quick, Gingery Peanut Sauce
Makes about 2 cups

Ingredients

* 1 cup natural peanut butter (chunky or smooth, it's up to you)
* 1/3 cup soy sauce
* 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
* 2 Tbsps brown sugar
* 2 Tbsps roasted red chili paste
* Juice of one lime
* 2-inch knob of fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
* 1 clove of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
* 2 Tbsp sesame oil
* Up to 1/2 cup hot water, as needed, to thin the sauce

Directions

1. Place all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and blend, adding hot water slowly in a thin stream until the sauce reaches your desired consistency. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasonings to taste.

2. Store in an airtight container for up to a week in the refrigerator and add to anything you want to taste really good.

You might also like:

For more delicious recipes, gardening ideas, foraging tips, and food-related inspiration "like" the Garden of Eating on Facebook, or follow me on Twitter and Pinterest.

Thai Eggplant Salad with Fresh Herbs & Greens

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Thai eggplant salad with fresh garden greens and herbs by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

A friend recently posed the question "if you could only eat one country's cuisine for the rest of your life, what would it be?" on his Facebook page. I didn't even pause to think before responding "THAILAND!" I find the unique combination of hot, sour, salty and sweet that makes Thai food Thai food utterly addictive in its freshness, complexity and depth of flavors.

Eggplant for the Thai eggplant salad by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

This salad is a perfect example -- you start with a bed of fresh greens and a generous amount of fresh herbs - basil, cilantro and mint. Then you add some sliced scallions or chives, top with nutty, sweet, roasted eggplant and toss the whole thing in a dressing that is a mouth-watering balance of tart, sweet and spicy.

Eggplant for the Thai eggplant salad by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

Toss the sliced eggplant with lots of olive oil and sea salt, then spread them out on a couple of heavy baking sheets and roast, flipping once in the middle to ensure even cooking. The roasting turns them into something you'll enjoy eating right off the tray - they get soft and kind of caramelized with a wonderful, nutty flavor that is at least as good as meat.

Roasted eggplant  for the Thai eggplant salad by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

The scallions provide a nice counterpoint to the sweetness and softness of the eggplant slices. I like to chop them fairly finely to distribute the flavor and avoid getting any overpowering bites of allium.

Scallions for the Thai eggplant salad by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

Fresh basil, mint and cilantro - the holy trinity of Thai herbs - give the salad a delightful pop with little bursts of flavor happening all over the place. I am so happy to be able to go outside and snip these straight from the garden again after the long winter. Feels so luxurious! I'm trying out this pretty purple basil (the variety is called dark opal) this year and so far, I am a big fan.

Cilantro, basil and mint for the Thai eggplant salad by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

And the greens make a nice, fresh bed for it all. Especially now that there are such tender young thangs growing in the garden (this bunch of lovelies came from our friend, Liza's garden).

Fresh garden greens for the Thai eggplant salad by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

The dressing ties it all together (I can no longer use that phrase without thinking of the Big Lebowski - anyone else?) Lime juice provides all the acid you need. Then you add some fish sauce (substitute soy sauce, if you're a vegan or vegetarian or allergic), some brown sugar, a jot of Sriracha, and a little finely chopped ginger and garlic.

Lime juice for the Thai eggplant salad by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

Pour that dressing over it all and devour it. Sometimes I add some chopped toasted peanuts for a little crunch, too, but it's up to you. SO GOOD!

Thai eggplant salad with fresh garden greens and herbs by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

-- print recipe --
Thai Eggplant Salad with Fresh Herbs & Greens
Serves 4

Ingredients

* 2 medium eggplants, ends removed, sliced into rounds or half rounds (the slender Asian eggplants are the best if you can find them)
* 3 scallions, washed, ends removed and finely chopped
* 4-5 cups of fresh greens - lettuce, arugala, tatsoi, baby spinach, etc., washed, dried and ripped into bite-sized pieces
* 2 cups fresh herbs - equal parts cilantro, basil and mint, rinsed, dried, stems removed and coarsely chopped or ripped
*  Olive oil and sea salt for roasting
* 1/4 cup chopped roasted peanuts (optional)

For the dressing
* Juice of 3 limes
* 2 tsps fish sauce (sub soy sauce if you do not/cannot eat fish)
* 1 tsp Sriracha (you can also use another hot sauce if you prefer or half a jalapeno with the seeds removed - if you like things hot, feel free to use more)
* 1 Tbsp brown sugar or palm sugar
* 1 small clove of garlic, minced or pressed
* 1 tsp chopped ginger root

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 400. In a medium-large bowl, toss the eggplant slices with a lot of olive oil (eggplant is like a sponge so do your tossing quickly to help ensure that the oil gets distributed evenly before it gets absorbed) and several generous pinches of sea salt. Turn the eggplant slices out onto two heavy baking sheets and lay them out in a single layer. Roast for 15-20 minutes then remove the trays and flip the slices over. Return them to the oven and roast for another 10 minutes or so before removing them to cool.

2. Make the dressing - just mix all the ingredients together in whatever order you like and stir or shake well until the sugar has dissolved. Taste it and adjust the flavors, as needed.

3. Lay the greens and herbs in your serving bowl and top with the eggplant slices (you can either use them as is or cut or tear them into smaller pieces). Sprinkle with the chopped scallions and peanuts (if desired), add the dressing and serve.

You might also like:


For more delicious recipes, gardening ideas, foraging tips, and food-related inspiration "like" the Garden of Eating on Facebook, or follow me on Twitter and Pinterest.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Fresh Spring Rolls with Herbs & Crispy Tofu

Fresh spring roll by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

I suppose it's possible that there's something fresher and more flavorful than these spring rolls but if so, I have yet to encounter it.

The combination of fresh basil, cilantro and mint, cool, crispy cucumbers, sweet, crunchy carrots, crispy fried tofu and a sweet, spicy peanut sauce that you get in each bite is a kind of mind-altering experience.

Ingredients for the fresh spring rolls by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

And they are just as much fun to make as they are to eat, too - a perfect, summer dinner party food.

Lay out all the ingredients on the table - thinly sliced cucumbers and carrots, crispy tofu slices, fresh basil, mint and cilantro, sliced scallions, lettuce, and rice vermicelli. And peanut sauce, lots and lots of gingery, spicy, sweet, savory peanut sauce - if space allows, I put out several bowls so people can reach it more easily. I'm also a huge fan of hoisin sauce so I always include that, too.

Ingredients for the fresh spring rolls by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

I also found the most delicious, delicate little pea shoots at the first farmer's market of the season on Wednesday so I put those out, too.

Pea shoots by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

Set out a big bowl of very hot water to soften the rice wrappers in and be prepared to refill it once or twice. If you're really tight on space they make these little space-saving rice wrap soaker deals.

Rice wrappers and bean threads by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

There's usually a little jockeying for position at the water bowl to get the wrappers softened but then it's off to the races we go! Everyone creates their own spring rolls, adding as much (or as little) of this or that as they please. You could also make a ton of these ahead of time to serve as appetizers at a summer party.

Rolling the fresh spring roll by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

These are a crowd pleaser and a perfect meal for the kind of hot, muggy weather we've been having this week. They are tasty with shrimp in place of the tofu and also very good without either one, too.

Here's how I roll:
  1. Lay the softened wrapper out on your plate and plop your fillings in a neat pile at one end - as with a burrito, don't try to load too much in there at once.
  2. Use your fingers to tuck the fillings in as you begin to roll the thin rice paper "skin" over the top.
  3. Complete one full roll over the top and then flip the sides in to create your closed edges.
  4. Keep on rolling until you're there. Eat. Repeat.
Rolling up a fresh spring roll

-- print recipe --
Fresh Spring Rolls with Herbs & Crispy Tofu
Serves 4

Ingredients

* 1 package of firm tofu
* 3 carrots, peeled and julienned or thinly sliced
* 1 large cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced
* 3 scallions, washed, trimmed and sliced into long, thin strips
* 1 cup of fresh basil leaves, washed and dried
* 1 cup of fresh mint leaves, washed and dried
* 1 cup of fresh cilantro leaves, washed and dried
* Several cups of lettuce leaves, washed and dried
* 2 cups of bean sprouts or pea sprouts
* 1 small package of rice or bean vermicelli, cooked and drained according to the directions on the package
* 1 package of large rice paper wrappers
* 1/2 cup peanut or grapeseed oil for frying the tofu
* A big  batch of peanut sauce
* Hoisin sauce

Directions

1. Make the peanut sauce. Do this ahead of time to give the flavors time to develop.

2. Drain the tofu by opening the package and putting the block of tofu under something solid and heavy - I usually use a cutting board with a full kettle of water balanced on top.

3. Prep all the veggies - this takes some time since there's a bunch of washing, drying, slicing and dicing but it's worth it. Put them all in the bowls or plates you will serve them in.

4. Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large cast iron or stainless steel skillet and fry the tofu (you may have to do this in batches depending on the size of your pan), flipping once, until it's puffy and golden brown then turn them out onto a brown paper bag to drain. Once the tofu is cool enough to handle, transfer it to a serving plate or bowl.

5. Bring a pot of water to the boil and prepare the rice vermicelli - it's very quick - usually just a few minutes - then drain and set aside in a serving bowl.

6. Put some more water on to boil and lay all your components out on the table.

7. Pour the hot water into a bowl (or two if you can fit them on the table) and call everyone to the table to get rolling.

You might also like:
For more delicious recipes, gardening ideas, foraging tips, and food-related inspiration "like" the Garden of Eating on Facebook, or follow me on Twitter and Pinterest.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Quick, Gingery Peanut Sauce

Pork & veggie potstickers with brown rice, peanut sauce & pickled cuke salad by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2012

With the obvious exception of people who are deathly allergic to peanuts, I think pretty much everyone loves peanut sauce. I'm always happy when I've made a big batch of it because there are so many ways to use it throughout the week - with tofu, with spring rolls, with broccoli, with rice, with chicken, with shrimp, as the basis for a salad dressing, etc., etc.

Ingredients for the peanut sauce by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

Although I switch it up sometimes (in fact, I am planning to do a little round up of the many peanut sauces I like to make soon), the recipe below is my default option because I love the combination of spicy, salty and sweet. And it's pretty quick, which is very important to me.

Blending the miso peanut sauce in the Cuisinart by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

You take lots of peanut butter, some soy sauce, fresh ginger, garlic, brown sugar, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, roasted red chili paste, and lime juice and put them all in a Cuisinart or blender. Add some hot water and blend until smooth. That's it. Boom! You're done! Well, except that now you have to wash your food processor which is not my favorite task but it's worth it.

Use a natural peanut butter - the ingredients should be either just peanuts or peanuts and salt. Make a lot. Enjoy!

Peanut sauce by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

-- print recipe --Quick, Gingery Peanut Sauce
Makes about 2 cups

Ingredients

* 1 cup natural peanut butter (chunky or smooth, it's up to you)
* 1/3 cup soy sauce
* 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
* 2 Tbsps brown sugar
* 2 Tbsps roasted red chili paste
* Juice of one lime
* 2-inch knob of fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
* 1 clove of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
* 2 Tbsp sesame oil
* Up to 1/2 cup hot water, as needed, to thin the sauce

Directions

1. Place all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and blend, adding hot water slowly in a thin stream until the sauce reaches your desired consistency. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasonings to taste.

2. Store in an airtight container for up to a week in the refrigerator and add to anything you want to taste really good.

You might also like:

For more delicious recipes, gardening ideas, foraging tips, and food-related inspiration "like" the Garden of Eating on Facebook, or follow me on Twitter and Pinterest.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Thai Eggplant Salad with Fresh Herbs & Greens

Thai eggplant salad with fresh garden greens and herbs by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

A friend recently posed the question "if you could only eat one country's cuisine for the rest of your life, what would it be?" on his Facebook page. I didn't even pause to think before responding "THAILAND!" I find the unique combination of hot, sour, salty and sweet that makes Thai food Thai food utterly addictive in its freshness, complexity and depth of flavors.

Eggplant for the Thai eggplant salad by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

This salad is a perfect example -- you start with a bed of fresh greens and a generous amount of fresh herbs - basil, cilantro and mint. Then you add some sliced scallions or chives, top with nutty, sweet, roasted eggplant and toss the whole thing in a dressing that is a mouth-watering balance of tart, sweet and spicy.

Eggplant for the Thai eggplant salad by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

Toss the sliced eggplant with lots of olive oil and sea salt, then spread them out on a couple of heavy baking sheets and roast, flipping once in the middle to ensure even cooking. The roasting turns them into something you'll enjoy eating right off the tray - they get soft and kind of caramelized with a wonderful, nutty flavor that is at least as good as meat.

Roasted eggplant  for the Thai eggplant salad by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

The scallions provide a nice counterpoint to the sweetness and softness of the eggplant slices. I like to chop them fairly finely to distribute the flavor and avoid getting any overpowering bites of allium.

Scallions for the Thai eggplant salad by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

Fresh basil, mint and cilantro - the holy trinity of Thai herbs - give the salad a delightful pop with little bursts of flavor happening all over the place. I am so happy to be able to go outside and snip these straight from the garden again after the long winter. Feels so luxurious! I'm trying out this pretty purple basil (the variety is called dark opal) this year and so far, I am a big fan.

Cilantro, basil and mint for the Thai eggplant salad by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

And the greens make a nice, fresh bed for it all. Especially now that there are such tender young thangs growing in the garden (this bunch of lovelies came from our friend, Liza's garden).

Fresh garden greens for the Thai eggplant salad by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

The dressing ties it all together (I can no longer use that phrase without thinking of the Big Lebowski - anyone else?) Lime juice provides all the acid you need. Then you add some fish sauce (substitute soy sauce, if you're a vegan or vegetarian or allergic), some brown sugar, a jot of Sriracha, and a little finely chopped ginger and garlic.

Lime juice for the Thai eggplant salad by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

Pour that dressing over it all and devour it. Sometimes I add some chopped toasted peanuts for a little crunch, too, but it's up to you. SO GOOD!

Thai eggplant salad with fresh garden greens and herbs by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

-- print recipe --
Thai Eggplant Salad with Fresh Herbs & Greens
Serves 4

Ingredients

* 2 medium eggplants, ends removed, sliced into rounds or half rounds (the slender Asian eggplants are the best if you can find them)
* 3 scallions, washed, ends removed and finely chopped
* 4-5 cups of fresh greens - lettuce, arugala, tatsoi, baby spinach, etc., washed, dried and ripped into bite-sized pieces
* 2 cups fresh herbs - equal parts cilantro, basil and mint, rinsed, dried, stems removed and coarsely chopped or ripped
*  Olive oil and sea salt for roasting
* 1/4 cup chopped roasted peanuts (optional)

For the dressing
* Juice of 3 limes
* 2 tsps fish sauce (sub soy sauce if you do not/cannot eat fish)
* 1 tsp Sriracha (you can also use another hot sauce if you prefer or half a jalapeno with the seeds removed - if you like things hot, feel free to use more)
* 1 Tbsp brown sugar or palm sugar
* 1 small clove of garlic, minced or pressed
* 1 tsp chopped ginger root

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 400. In a medium-large bowl, toss the eggplant slices with a lot of olive oil (eggplant is like a sponge so do your tossing quickly to help ensure that the oil gets distributed evenly before it gets absorbed) and several generous pinches of sea salt. Turn the eggplant slices out onto two heavy baking sheets and lay them out in a single layer. Roast for 15-20 minutes then remove the trays and flip the slices over. Return them to the oven and roast for another 10 minutes or so before removing them to cool.

2. Make the dressing - just mix all the ingredients together in whatever order you like and stir or shake well until the sugar has dissolved. Taste it and adjust the flavors, as needed.

3. Lay the greens and herbs in your serving bowl and top with the eggplant slices (you can either use them as is or cut or tear them into smaller pieces). Sprinkle with the chopped scallions and peanuts (if desired), add the dressing and serve.

You might also like:


For more delicious recipes, gardening ideas, foraging tips, and food-related inspiration "like" the Garden of Eating on Facebook, or follow me on Twitter and Pinterest.