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Garden Spring Rolls with Mango Sauce

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Yesterday was a beautiful, and delicious day in garden class!  Our spring veggies are abundant, so it was a perfect time to make spring rolls.  Little hands harvested baby lettuce leaves, snow peas, tender asparagus, cilantro and mint.  Some kids knew exactly what was coming when I brought out the rice papers, while the rest were delighted to experience their very first garden-fresh, spring rolls.

Garden Spring Rolls with Mango Sauce

Spring rolls like these are found in Vietnamese and Thai restaurants, usually served with fish sauce or peanut sauce.  In our school garden tastings, we try to keep all of our food plant-based and nut-free (due to food allergies).   I prepared the mango sauce ahead of time, and included Asian flavors to help the kids associate the tastes with the South East Asian region.  I also pre-shredded the carrots and tossed them with finely chopped mint and a little rice wine vinegar.  It took about 15 minutes to gather the rest of the ingredients from the garden, prepare the rolls, serve the bite-sized samples, and discuss the eating experience.   The kids absolutely devoured everything!  During the last 5 minutes of class, we asked them to describe the textures of the spring rolls, and how they would “sell” the food to someone who had never eaten them before.  As always, I polled the kids, and got a resounding “2 thumbs up!”  I think about 5 kids, throughout the course of the day, “didn’t care for it”.

These spring rolls are crazy-easy to prepare.  Don’t be intimated by the rice paper!   Just set it in water for a few seconds, then lift onto a cutting board when it becomes pliable.  Lay the lettuce, cilantro and veggies in a strip down the center of the paper, then “tuck and roll”… the kids said “like a burrito”.

wrap spring rolls

We sliced the rolls thin to serve a bunch of kids, traditionally they would just be cut in half.  I spooned a little sauce on each piece because these kids are famous double-dippers!

fresh spring rolls

Little Alice came for a visit to the garden and ate 2 whole pieces, refusing to share with her mom!

garden spring rolls

The kids all asked me where they can find rice papers, so they’ll probably be wanting to make them at home.  Most grocery stores these days carry them, just be sure they aren’t too old, they can get cracky and hard to work with.  We used “brown rice” paper wrappers  (brown rice, arrowroot and organic green tea).   You can add a little meat, shrimp or tofu and rice vermicelli to make these spring rolls a more substantial.  They are cool, crisp and perfect for warm weather snacking!

Garden Spring Rolls with Mango Sauce
Recipe type: Appetizer
Cuisine: Asian
Prep time: 
Total time: 
We used fresh, tender asparagus spears from the garden, but cucumbers cut into thin spears are probably easier to find, and are very refreshing.
  • 1 package of of rice papers (spring roll wrappers)
  • Baby lettuce leaves
  • ½ bunch of cilantro
  • 1 cucumber
  • 15-20 snow peas
  • 2-3 shredded carrots
  • 1 Tbs rice wine vinegar
  • a few fresh mint leaves
  • Thai basil (if you can find it)
  • 1 very ripe mango, peeled and chopped.
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • ¼ tsp sesame oil
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Juice of 1 orange
  • About 5 leaves of cilantro
  • Water to thin
  1. Make the mango sauce first, by putting everything in the blender. Thin with a little water if it is too thick to emulsify.
  2. Prepare the veggies and herbs by washing them and removing the tough stems. Slice the cucumber into thin, long spears. Finely chop the mint and mix in with the carrots. Also add the rice wine vinegar to the carrots.
  3. Put about an inch of warm water in a pan large enough to submerge the rice papers. Lay one in the water and gently move it around until it is soft and pliable.
  4. Lay the the paper on a cutting board, then lay lettuce, a few sprigs of cilantro, Thai basil, 2 snow peas, and one strip of cucumber across the middle.
  5. Gently pull one side of the paper over the middle, lightly squeezing the veggies together. Tuck the ends in, then roll into a log (like a burrito).
  6. Slice the spring rolls in half and serve with the mango sauce.
  7. You should be able to make at least 8 whole spring rolls.


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