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Rice Paper Roll-Ups Three Ways

As busy working parents ourselves, we’re always in search of school lunch fare that’s both tasty and a blast for kids to make with us. Enter rice paper roll-ups, a.k.a. the fresh rolls, summer rolls, spring rolls, or salad rolls you know from Thai or Vietnamese restaurants.

Getting creative with the filling, plus the simple and fast assembly process, makes these roll-ups fun for little sous. And we love that these handy snacks are healthy and easy to pack. Here’s the simple how-to, with three delicious filling options to get you started.

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  • Yield: 1 roll-up (multiply ingredients by how many you want)

Ingredients:

For each roll-up:
  • 1 (8-inch) rice paper (also called spring roll wrappers or skins)
  • 1 tablespoon Creamy Ginger Spread
For the Creamy Ginger Spread (makes enough for 6 rolls):
  • ¼ cup tahini or creamy sunbutter
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
Filling option 1:
  • Small handful shredded red cabbage
  • 2 tablespoons julienned carrots
  • 1 tablespoon chopped dried fruit
  • 1 slice roast beef deli meat
  • 2 or 3 pear slices
Filling option 2:
  • Small handful baby spinach leaves
  • 3 cooked asparagus spears
  • 3 fennel or cucumber sticks
  • 2 ounces smoked salmon
  • 2 or 3 apple slices
Filling option 3:
  • 1 narrow slice tofu
  • Small handful lettuce leaves
  • 3 cucumber sticks
  • 3 red bell pepper sticks
  • 2 or 3 mango slices

Steps:

  1. Step 1

    Make the spread: Add all the ingredients to a small bowl and stir to combine. Mix in 1 to 2 tablespoons of water to make the sauce spreadable. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed. Set aside.

    Sous Tip:

    With measuring, mixing, and taste-testing, this spread is a great project for kiddos to make entirely on their own. Assist with juicing and grating as needed.

  2. Step 2

    Make a roll-up: Immerse 1 rice paper wrapper in a large bowl filled with warm water until just moistened and pliable but still slightly firm, anywhere from 5 to 30 seconds depending on the brand you use. Carefully lift the wrapper from the bowl, letting excess water drip off, then lay it flat on a clean surface, smoothing it out as needed. Let it sit for a minute or so to become even softer and slightly sticky.

    Sous Tip:

    Kids love watching the rice paper transform from what looks like a plastic disc into something edible. Once the wrappers have been moistened, they can easily tear or stick to themselves—have extras on hand so your child can practice, or be cool with imperfect (but just as tasty) roll-ups.

  3. Step 3

    Smear 1 tablespoon of the ginger spread in the center of the softened wrapper, covering about a 4-by-1-inch area. Layer your choice of filling ingredients over the spread in the order they are listed above. If you are making Option 3 with plain tofu, place the tofu on the spread and then turn it to coat all sides before adding the rest of the ingredients.

  4. Step 4

    To roll, lift one of the longer edges of the wrapper and fold it over the filling. Roll once to form a tight cylinder. Fold in the sides of the wrapper and then continue rolling until the roll-up is sealed. Repeat to make additional roll-ups.

    Ideally, you want the wrapper to stay soft and moist, so rice paper roll-ups are best eaten the same day. If you prepare the ingredients ahead of time, it will only take a couple minutes for your child to make her lunch before heading off to school. If you need to prepare them the night before, place the finished roll-ups in a large airtight container, cover with a damp dishtowel, secure the lid on top, and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 day. To pack, wrap the roll-ups tightly in plastic wrap and place in a lunchbox.

    Sous Tip:

    Ideally, you want the wrapper to stay soft and moist, so rice paper roll-ups are best eaten the same day. If you prepare the ingredients ahead of time, it will only take a couple minutes for your child to make her lunch before heading off to school. If you need to prepare them the night before, place the finished roll-ups in a large airtight container, cover with a damp dishtowel, secure the lid on top, and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 day. To pack, wrap the roll-ups tightly in plastic wrap and place in a lunchbox.