Winter Rolls! You know, instead of spring rolls, because it’s still Winter. Wait, it’s still Winter, right? I just looked outside, and yep. Still Winter. But, it’s almost over, so I figured I’d better shared this recipe with you before all the spring vegetables start showing up in the produce section and you forget all about the glorious bounty Winter has to offer. When it comes to these rolls, I’d argue that they could give Spring a run for its money.
It’s March 1, you guys. Seriously? What the heck happened? I always have this feeling at this time of year, and I always forget about it until it creeps upon me again. This reminds me of one of my favorite silly jokes for how I remember the Spanish word for “always”, which is “siempre.”
Here’s the joke – are you ready? I say, “I always forget siempre.” HAHAHAHAHA…get it? I know, it’s bad. But it makes me laugh every time. Similar to my sentence made of country names – I’m Hungary for Turkey Greece and Chile. No, no I’m not, but it’s a funny sentence. ANYWAY….it’s still Winter for 20 more days, so I’m finally sharing this recipe because it took two different photo shoots and lots of procrastination and gosh darn it to heck anyway I’m hitting publish on this thing. I have issues.
I’m not going to sugar-coat it, these are a bit on the time-intensive side, especially if you don’t have time or the desire to prep any of the components ahead of time. But, THEY ARE WORTH IT. Seriously, they are good. I mean, I know I say that about everything, but when I put these together for photo shoot #2, I took a bite and said, “oh, wow, these are good.” It makes me giddy when a wacky idea from my brain becomes reality and even better than I imagined. I usually have to work hard to manage my expectations, but this time my high hopes were rewarded.
You may recall that I really like to use vegetables to make salad rolls/spring rolls all prettified. These Winter Rolls are no exception – I rely on the flower shape of thinly sliced delicata squash rings as the lead singer. Then they get layered with roasted shredded cabbage and sweet potato, then rice noodles or spaghetti squash piled on top with a few sprigs of fresh cilantro (or leafy herb of your choice). Finally, they get rolled up and dipped in date-sweetened teriyaki sauce (SO YUM), or whatever sauce floats your boat (a sweet chili sauce, or sweet potato peanut sauce would be great choices). Basically, they are all the best and brightest of winter’s bounty all wrapped up together.
If the idea of working with rice paper wrappers is intimidating, fear not! Once you try your hand at a few, your comfort level will increase significantly. And you can make it a Winter Roll party by setting up everything assembly-line style and drafting any nearby able-bodied persons to help, which will make the process go a lot faster.
A quick tip about the rice noodles, if you use those instead of spaghetti squash (or in combination with them). The package directions say to boil them on the stove, but because they cook so quickly I have often had them get overcooked and mushy, which is no fun. So my favorite way to prep them is to put the noodles in the strainer of my salad spinner inside the bowl, then pour bowling water over them and let them stand for 2 minutes. Then I pull the strainer out of the bowl and rinse the noodles under cold running water. They should be perfectly tender and ready to use. This method works for rice vermicelli or Maifun noodles, which are super thin. If you are using a thicker rice noodle, the soaking time might be longer, you’ll just need to check the noodles before draining. Thin noodles are best for these anyway.
Here’s how to roll these up so that they look just like the photos!
So bright and cheery, right? Take that, grey skies! Not only are these beautiful to look at, but they are chock full of fiber, vitamins, and just general goodness. I hope you’ll give them a go! And if you do, please let me know here in the comments or take a photo and tag @eatwithinyourmeans on Instagram! I’ll remember you always. Siempre. 😉
- 1 large sweet potato or 3 carrots peeled and shredded
- 2 Delicata squash* seeds removed and thinly sliced across into rings
- 1 8 oz package rice vermicelli or Maifun noodles**
- 1 8 oz package spring roll wrappers***
- 1 cup cilantro leaves and tender stems washed and trimmed
- 1 T. extra virgin olive oil optional
- 6-8 cups purple or green cabbage (or a combination) about 1 head total
Preheat oven to 400F.
Lay out delicata squash rings in a single layer on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper or on a wire rack set over the baking sheet.
On a separate baking sheet, mound up cabbage and sweet potato/carrot shreds, spreading out to cover the baking sheet. Sprinkle both sheets with salt and a drizzle of olive oil, if using.
Roast both sheets for 15-20 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through the cooking time if you wish.
Meanwhile, place rice noodles in a large bowl and pour boiling water over them. Allow to sit for 2 minutes, then drain and rinse with cold water. If the noodles aren’t quite cooked, return the noodles to the bowl and pour boiling water over them for one more minute, then drain and rinse with cool water again.
When the delicata squash rings and cabbage/sweet potato mixture are done roasting, let cool briefly and then set up an assembly station as follows - bowl of warm water, spring roll wrappers, delicata squash slices, cabbage/sweet potato mixture, rice noodles/spaghetti squash noodles, and cilantro.
To assemble the rolls, dip a spring roll wrapper in the warm water for 30 seconds, then lay out on a clean surface with a bit of rough texture (like a cutting board). Lay out 3 slices of delicata squash in the middle of each wrapper, then add 1/4 cup of cabbage/sweet potato mixture, then another 1/4 cup of rice noodles (eyeball the amount). Top with two-three sprigs of cilantro. Fold up the winter roll like a burrito, but bringing up the bottom half up and over the filling, then folding in each side and continuing to roll up. Repeat until all the filling is used up or you run out of wrappers, whichever comes first. Any leftover filling is delicious eaten straight up or drizzled with some date-sweetened teriyaki sauce.
**I love these brown rice Maifun noodles from Annie Chun
***These brown rice wrappers from StarAnise Foods are a great choice for the wrappers, and they come in a 6-pack so you can always have them at the ready.
If you want to use spaghetti squash noodles instead of rice noodles (or in combination), the quickest way to get the spaghetti squash cooked is the microwave. To do this, cut the squash in half width-wise, scoop out the seeds, and generously salt the exposed flesh. Place squash halves in a microwave-safe dish (no cover or water is necessary), and let sit for 10 minutes for the salt to draw out some of the water, then microwave for 5 minutes. Check to see the doneness of the squash, and cook in 1-2 minute increments until cooked to your liking. Let cool, then brush off any visible salt and scrape the “noodles” out of the skin. See this tutorial for other spaghetti squash cooking methods.
These are best eaten freshly made, but will keep 2-3 days in the refrigerator - let them come to room temperature before enjoying or the wrappers might be tough.
These would be great to make with friends, assembly-line style, then you can all dig in! This is a time-consuming process on your own, but totally worth it, and all of the components can be prepared ahead of time, making the assembly time much faster.
The nutrition info was calculated using rice noodles instead of spaghetti squash – the calorie and carb count will be different if using spaghetti squash. It also doesn’t include the calories from the dipping sauce.