The meditative process of thinly slicing fresh veggies for spring rolls is a bright memory from a hazy time. During my cancer treatment, our friends brought spring roll fixings to prepare in our sunny backyard. Although I wasn’t very hungry most days, my body instinctively knew the value of fresh bell peppers, cucumbers, carrots, spinach, and mint. Bursting with freshness, the vegan spring rolls offered simple ingredients unencumbered by the transformative heat from cooking, which so often rendered meals unappetizing during chemo.
Few meals from this time in my life remain palatable. There’s a Greek-inspired orzo salad that I used to love, but the taste and texture associations are just too strong. Somehow, this meal traveled with me through hell unscathed, and it still manages to lift my spirits two years later. It’s strange how certain small experiences stick and become bigger memories over time, with no awareness in the present moment. These fresh vegan spring rolls live in that category for me.
I like to say that this memory has persisted, not survived. The language around cancer survivorship has always felt unfair to those who died from a disease beyond their control. When does one earn the title of survivor? Does it get taken away the moment you succumb to your illness? Survivor rhetoric is often accompanied by well-intentioned adjectives such as “brave” or “inspirational” which can feel incongruent, overly simplistic, or overwhelming during dark moments. While you could say that I survived or that I was brave, I think it’s more accurate to say that I just got lucky—just like the spring rolls, because the orzo was no less delicious.
Unlike cooking, there is no recipe for healing. Instead, there is power in being honest, vulnerable, and visible. Thanks for allowing me to do that here. To those who have struggled through a cancer diagnosis—regardless of the outcome—I see you. Now let’s get to what we all need: some healthy, powerful food (and wine) to fuel our journeys.
what vegetables do you use in vegan spring rolls?
Vegan spring rolls are delicious with a lot of different fillings. For this particular batch, I used red bell peppers, cucumbers, carrots, green onions, fresh spinach, and mint. I also added some rice noodles and sriracha baked tofu, because yum. You could also try red cabbage, basil, fresh peppers of some sort if you’re into the heat, or raw zucchini.
If you make these spring rolls with tofu, rate the recipe, leave a comment, and tag #plantandvine on Instagram. If you’re the on the lookout for some other tasty vegan recipes with wine pairings, check out this tali sauce vegan bowl, vegan stuffed shells, vegan palak paneer, vegan burrito bowl, easy fried rice, and banh mi bowl.
vegan spring rolls and wine pairings
Given the lovely herbal flavors in the mint and spinach and the delicate rice noodles, you don’t want to overwhelm your fresh spring rolls with a big bossy red or a super fruit-forward white:
- Rosé – Try a Pinot Noir or Grenache Rosé. Steer clear of the Syrah-based versions, as they might too meaty for these spring rolls. You’re going for crisp, dry, strawberry, watermelon, and cucumber flavors.
- Suggested Regions: Northern Spain for Garnacha Rosado or Wilamette Valley, Oregon
- Grüner Veltliner – An Austrian wine similar to Sauvignon Blanc that is drier with flavors of lime, lemon, grapefruit, and white pepper. This wine is all about balancing out the heavy flavors in the peanut sauce. This an exotic pairing.
- Suggested Regions: Austria
- Vinho Verde – Refreshing white wine deliciousness from Portugal that resembles lemonade or limeade. It has a lower alcohol content (9% ABV) than most white wines so perfect for a low-key lunch or dinner.
- Suggested Regions: Minho Region, Northern Portugal
Want to learn more about wine pairing techniques? Check out my wine pairing guide and guide to vegan wine for more ideas. Got a bottle of wine but don’t know if you should decant it? Check out my wine decanter guide.
Fresh Vegan Spring Rolls with Tangy Peanut Sauce
Red Pepper, carrot, cucumber, green onion, spinach, sriracha tofu, and mint stuffed fresh vegan spring rolls with tangier, lighter peanut sauce.
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 25 minutes
- Total Time: 55 minutes
- Yield: 12 servings
- Category: Mains, Vegan, Salad
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: Asian, Vietnamese
vegan spring rolls:
- 1 full recipe of Sriracha Soy Baked Tofu
- 1/2 package of Maifun Rice Sticks, cooked (or other thin rice noodles)
- 1 red pepper, julienned
- 1 carrot, julienned
- 1/2 cucumber, julienned
- 6 green onions, thinly sliced on a diagonal angle
- 3 handfuls of baby spinach, gently bunched up and sliced thinly
- 1/2 cup fresh mint, sliced thinly
- Rice papers
tangy peanut sauce:
- 1/4 cup salted peanut or almond butter
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar or maple syrup
- 1 lime, juiced
- 1/2 teaspoon Sriracha
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- hot water to thin
- Make Sriracha Soy Baked Tofu.
- While tofu is baking, make rice noodles according to package instructions. When finished, drain and rinse with cold water. Chop roughly.
- Chop vegetables and collect in a prepping area.
- Prepare tangy peanut sauce by adding all ingredients except water to a mixing bowl and whisking. If sauce is too thick, add hot water 1 tablespoon at a time. Whisk until desired consistency is desired. Set aside. I like sauce variety, so I make peanut sauce and use additional Sriracha, Sweet Chili Sauce, or Soy Sauce for dipping. If you just want tangy peanut sauce, I’d recommend doubling this sauce.
- To assemble fresh spring rolls, first fill pie pan or round skillet with warm water. Submerge rice papers individually for 10-20 seconds per paper. You will feel the papers soften and start to have a slightly gummy texture. Once 10-20 seconds has passed, remove from water and put on large cutting board or plate for assembly.
- Add vegetable fillings, tofu, and rice noodles, laying horizontally, in the middle of rice paper. Pick up bottom edge of rice paper (edge closest to you) and wrap over fillings (this motion will be away from you). Once wrapped from the bottom, tuck in the sides, and continue gently rolling to seal the seam. If rice papers are too stiff at this stage, dampen your fingers to help soften and seal.
- Repeat process until all toppings are used. We made about a dozen spring rolls.
- Store leftovers covered in fridge. Good up to 3 days but best when fresh.
*Recipe is a guide. Adapt ingredients and measurements as desired. Adapted from I Love Vegan’s Fresh Vegetable Crunchy Rolls.
Keywords: fresh spring rolls, vegan spring rolls, spring roll recipe