A few weeks back at my niece’s birthday party, the caterer served what I would describe as Asian burritos: rice paper filled with shredded carrots and beets and left sort of open-face. The taste and look were really fresh and delicious, but the ingredients kept spilling out everywhere.
When we began our cooking mini-session for the Summer, I wanted to try out a version of this recipe on the kids using a more traditional summer roll wrapping style and adding green apples for both their tartness and their sweetness. The children got the pleasure that comes from dipping in water, using their eye for color, and making different shapes as they rolled. These rolls are most fun when you have a lot of friends to help fill your platter. Making them with a few favorite Yummies would be a great kitchen playdate.
You or your Yummy might be freaked by the beets. I used to think of beets as one of my least favorite foods. What I was thinking about was the taste of those icky canned beets that I’d tasted once-and once was enough-as a child. Luckily, many many years later friends served me both roasted beets and raw beets that changed my feelings. These are nothing like those creepy canned things, so keep an open mind. Especially when mixed with the apples, raw beets are very tasty.
Summer Rolls with Carrot, Green Apple, and Beet
*3 medium red beets, peeled and shredded
*5 medium carrots, scrubbed and with the woody tops cut off and shredded
*2 green apples, preferably Granny Smith
*one package of rice paper
*some just boiled water
*peanut sauce, soy sauce, or lemon aioli, for serving
A quick note on the shredding: You can shred the apples and carrots together and then have your Yummy gently stir them till combined. The beets should be shredded separately to keep them from coloring the rest of the ingredients.
Set up your workspace with two wide, shallow bowls and the stack of rice paper nearby. Then, place a bowl of the beets, a bowl of the carrot-apple mixture, two dinner plates, and a large serving platter or tray down next to them.
Before calling your mini-chef to the workspace, pour a little of the just boiled water into the wide shallow bowls. Add enough cold water to make the water in the bowl lukewarm, safe for little hands to dip into.
Together: Take two sheets of the rice paper for each chef and completely emerge the sheets in the water for a few seconds. Take them out, one at a time and place them on your work plate spreading them out as best as you can. Using two wrappers will help a small child be able to make the rolls since it provides a little extra sturdiness, but if you have an older child, you can try just using one wrapper instead.
Place a heaping 1/2 teaspoon of the beets and a heaping 1/2 teaspoon of the carrot-apple mixture in the center of the rice paper. If you’re working with circular rice paper, fold the papers into a half-moon shape. If you have square rice paper, fold the papers into a triangle. Then tuck both of the side corners in and roll the roll it to seal it. Place each Summer roll on the platter and continue making rolls till you run out of ingredients.
Serve with peanut dipping sauce or, if there is an allergy, soy sauce or lemony aioli.