Asparagus, Chard & Soba Summer Rolls with Spicy Peanut Sauce

This recipe is a nice light dish to make on a hot summer night as a meal for 4 people or appetizers for 6 (the recipe makes 12 rolls). You want to make sure you have everything prepped and organized before you start cooking because the individual cook times are very short and as long as you are ready, you can go pretty fast. Once everything is cooked, you can even have everyone make their own rolls (less work for you!).

The Recipe:
For the Summer Rolls
12 asparagus stalks, tough ends removed
6 large Swiss chard leaves, stems removed and roughly torn
36 medium peeled, deveined shrimp, tails removed
6 oz. soba noodles
12 small rice paper wrappers
1/4 cup packed mint leaves

For the Peanut Sauce
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. brown sugar
3 tbsp. lime juice
1 1/2 tbsp. sambal olek (Asian chili paste) or red chili flakes
Hot water, as needed to thin

For the Summer Rolls

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and prepare an ice bath by filing a large bowl with ice and cold water.

2. Drop asparagus into the boiling water and cook 3 minutes, or until bright green and crisp-tender. Using tongs, transfer to ice bath.

3. Add swiss chard to pot and cook 1 minutes, transfer to ice bath with asparagus.

4. Add shrimp to pot and cook until pink, about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to ice bath.

5. Finally, add soba noodles to boiling water and cook 6 minutes, or until tender. Transfer to a colander and run cold water over until clear. Allow to drain fully.

6. Remove all ingredients from ice bath and set up a rolling station on your counter by spreading out a clean, dampened tea towel. Fill a baking dish 2″ deep with hot tap water.

7. Working one at a time, place a rice paper in the hot water until soft, about 1 minute. Transfer to your damp towel and arrange one stalk of asparagus, some chard, 3 shrimp, a small handful of noodles (about 2 tbsp.) and a couple of mint leaves inside. Roll it up, tucking in the sides as best you can. Proceed the same way with the remaining wrappers.

Asparagus, Chard & Soba Summer Rolls with Spicy Peanut Sauce

For the Peanut Sauce

1. Combine all ingredients in a large glass measuring cup and microwave for 1-2 minutes until you are able to whisk it. Add hot water a tablespoon at a time to thin to desired consistency. Serve warm or room temperature.

Keeps 1 week in the fridge; rewarm and thin with more hot water as needed.

My Experience:

I know it looks like a lot of steps but it’s really easy once you get started because most ingredients get cooked in the same pot, but one ingredient at a time. That’s why it looks so long. Prep time is about 45 minutes but cook time is only 10 (as long as you are well prepped and organized). If you have everyone roll their own, your prep time will be shorter at the end.

I didn’t have any soba noodles at home but I did have rice noodles, so I used those instead. I used the ones that are like fettuccine thickness.

If this is the first time you use rice paper wrappers, it is a little tricky at first. Don’t worry, you’ll get the hang of it after a couple. If you find your finger sticking to the wrappers, just wet your fingers to keep the wrappers pliable. You also want to work kind of quick so don’t try to do other things at the same time. Just focus on the wrappers, don’t overstuff them, and you’ll do fine! Also make sure your towel is actually damp, the water prevents the wrappers from drying out and sticking.

For the asparagus, I actually cut them in half before cooking. I thought they looked too long for the wrappers and by using the halves, I cooked a few extra and used 3 halves instead of 1 whole.

For the peanut sauce, I made mine more on the liquid-y side. The last time I made spring rolls (Shrimp Spring Rolls with Hoisin Peanut Dip), I found the dip very thick and there was no instructions for thinning it. Since this one did suggest adding hot water to thin, I thought I would try it. I liked it much better on the thin side but to each his own. You can also control the spiciness of the sauce by how much chili paste or flakes you use. For mine, I used none. For my fiancé, I put a little more chili flakes (after mixing everything else together and serving in separate bowls).

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