chicken and avocado summer rolls with peanut sauce

8:28:00 PM

All right. It’s January 19th, which means it’s been winter for thirty years, and I needed to eat something last week that was fresh and cool and summery and set aside the sweet potatoes, winter squashes, frost-sweetened spinach, and beets. I believe in eating seasonally, but I also believe that living in Wisconsin means that winter vegetable options are extremely limited, and we’ve got to branch out a little bit and reach for something that reminds us of summer. I want to hop on a bike and ride to a park and have a damn picnic with these summer rolls. 

I’ve made these delicious little guys quite a few times, and they’re just simply awesome. They are so fresh, and the chicken is ridiculously flavorful. The peanut sauce is a must (or really any peanut sauce you like, but they really want to be dipped, I promise.) Hoisin sauce is readily available in most supermarkets in the Asian aisle. I recommend looking at nutrition labels on hoisin sauce, especially if you’re watching sugar. The brand I use has about 3 grams of sugar per tablespoon, but there are some that have up to 15, so if that’s something that bothers you, search for a brand that works for you.

We eat these as a full meal but they’d be a great appetizer or even a good thing to bring to a potluck. It’s also fun to make with another person, because although it’s a really easy process, it can be a bit time consuming.

This recipe is from Half Baked Harvest and I tweaked it so little. It’s a great recipe. I haven’t tried, though I would guess you can make these vegan by using tofu - perhaps marinating it in the same marinade and baking the tofu, or even baking or frying the tofu and then tossing briefly with the marinade. 

The avocados are fantastic in these as well, adding a delicious creaminess.

Note: Honestly, I’ve never successfully made these where I get an exact equal amount of each ingredient on each spring roll. Just do what looks nice, using a couple pieces of each ingredient to make roughly equal rolls. Have fun with it. Sometimes we make a couple veggie-only rolls if we’ve been overzealous with the chicken. Usually, I get 10-12 rolls with this recipe. Don’t worry too much about making them perfect - they’re fun to make and more fun to eat.

chicken and avocado summer rolls with peanut sauce
makes about 10-12 rolls
adapted from Half Baked Harvest

for the chicken marinade
½ - ¾ lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into very thin strips 
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp lime juice
1/2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp freshly grated ginger
1 large clove garlic, grated

4-5 oz dried vermicelli noodles, cooked according to package directions and rinsed under cool water (about 1.5 cups cooked)
2 small avocados, sliced thinly
1 large carrot, either julienned or peeled with a potato peeler into thin strips
1 large red, orange, or yellow bell pepper, cut into thin strips
4-5 green onions, cut into about 3-inch lengths
a few leaves of iceberg or romaine lettuce
about 10-12 large leaves of basil
about 10-12 spring roll wrappers (found in the Asian section of most supermarkets)

for the dipping sauce
¼ cup hoisin sauce
2-3 tablespoons peanut butter, creamy or chunky works
2 tbsp sweet thai chili sauce (or about 1 tsp chili garlic sauce, which is what I used)
1 tsp sesame oil
a dash or two of crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
water for thinning if necessary
chopped peanuts for topping (optional)

Start by marinating the chicken. Combine all the marinade ingredients, then add the thinly sliced chicken. Let sit for about 10-15 minutes while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. 

When chicken is done marinating, heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until very hot. You want the chicken to cook very quickly. Add the chicken and marinade and stir-fry, constantly, until chicken is cooked through, and immediately remove from the heat and pour into a bowl; set aside.

Arrange the rest of your prepared vegetables into piles or bowls so that they’re easy to work with. 

Prepare a large bowl with warm water, and, working with one spring roll wrapper at a time,  soak a wrapper in the water for about 10 seconds. Remove and place on a flat surface. About one to two inches above the bottom of the wrapper, layer on your ingredients - basil leaves, some torn lettuce, the vermicelli noodles, chicken slices, avocado, carrots, bell pepper, and green onion. Wrap the bottom of the wrapper up over the filling, then fold in each side, and then roll tightly to the top. 

Repeat with remaining rolls.

To make the sauce, combine all the ingredients except water and peanuts and stir well. Add a little bit of water if you want to thin the sauce out a bit. Serve with the chopped peanuts on top, if desired. 

Serve the rolls with the sauce and enjoy! 

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