Tofu and vegetable summer rolls


These Vietnamese summer rolls are light and silky on the outside and a tasty tangle of textures on the inside. 

They’re the perfect option for a fun, healthy dinner party starter, an impressive party snack or a light summertime supper.

Crunchy tofu pieces cooked in a creamy, peanut sauce sit atop sleek pan-fried vegetable ribbons and fine, cooked egg noodles. All wrapped up in silky softened rice paper.

Vietnam is a country I’ve wanted to visit for years. Of course for its colourful history, amazing landscape and sandy beaches, but  mostly for its cuisine.

London’s Vietnamese restaurants

The Vietnamese restaurants on Kingsland Road in Dalston, east London, are my go-to for a fail safe, delicious meal. From Vermicelli noodles and claypot curries to stir-fries and pho, there’s a wealth of amazing dishes to try, made with fresh herbs and vegetables, seafood and satisfying carbs.

These summer rolls are a little fiddly to make, but only in their assembly. If you’re a dab hand at rolling a burrito, then you’ll get on just fine with these delightful little wraps.

They’re really versatile, so you could easily swap out the vegetables I used for whatever you’ve got in the fridge. Though I would recommend using veggies that you can slice into long, thin strips. Also, if you have some fresh herbs, like mint or coriander, pop them in for a lovely flavour addition.

Traditionally they’re served cold, with raw vegetables and cold fish or meat, but I wanted to cook my filling to crisp up the tofu and soften the vegetables. I served them lukewarm with the indulgent satay dipping sauce, and some sriracha chilli and plum sauces for a bit of variety.

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 small red onion
  • 1 small courgette
  • 8 rice paper wrappers
  • 200g firm tofu, drained
  • 1 fine egg noodle nest
  • 1 green pepper

For the satay sauce:

  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp agave syrup
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp chilli flakes
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3 drops rice wine
  • 2 tbsp cold water

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
Serves 2 as supper or 4 as a starter

Method

  1. Pop the noodles in a large bowl and pour over boiling water to cover. Leave to soften.
  2. Place all of the sauce ingredients into a measuring jug and whizz up with a hand blender. The consistency should be fairly runny. If it’s a little thick, add a drop more cold water and mix in.
  3. Put a large frying pan on a medium to high heat and pour in the oil.
  4. Slice the tofu into slim rectangular pieces and add to the frying pan. Cook until browned up, stirring every few minutes. Half way through cooking, add a tablespoon of the satay sauce to coat the tofu pieces. Stir.
  5. While the tofu is cooking, slice the onion, courgette and pepper into very fine slices.
  6. After about 10 minutes the tofu should have crisped up. When it’s ready, set it to one side on a small plate.
  7. Add the vegetable ribbons to the pan and cook until softened, stirring often. This should take roughly five minutes. When they’ve softened, take them off the heat.
  8. Drain the noodles and put them back in the bowl.
  9. Pour some near-boiling water into a large shallow bowl or deep plate. Take one sheet of rice paper and dip it in the water until it softens all over.
  10. Carefully place the paper onto a chopping board. Time to assemble the rolls. Place a small amount of noodles on the bottom third of the paper, then layer some vegetables on top, followed by three pieces of tofu. Tuck in the ends and then flip the long edge over the filling, rolling it over until all of the paper is used up. Place the roll on a chopping board or plate to serve. Repeat this process until all of your rolls are ready.
  11. Transfer the satay sauce to a small sauce dish along with any other sauces you may like to dip your rolls in.
  12. Serve your rolls with a salad garnish on the side if you fancy it. Enjoy!

This recipe was inspired by Minimalist Baker.

 

Mediterranean potato, tomato and pepper salad

To celebrate National Vegetarian Week and the May Bank Holiday in the UK, impress your friends and family by having a go at making this wonderfully flavoursome Mediterranean potato, tomato and pepper salad.

It’s really easy and cheap to make, looks exotic and appetising, and it’s low in fat!

As the weather slow starts to warm up (if we can brush off this pesky rain), and you’re thinking of organising a barbecue, serve this salad as a summery side dish, or as an alternative addition to a veggie Sunday lunch.

It can easily be doubled, tripled or multiplied further if you’re feeding the masses.

Mediterranean potato salad

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 8-10 Charlotte or new potatoes, cut in half
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 5 green olives
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 200g chopped tomatoes
  • 1 red pepper, sliced into thin strips
  • A small handful of fresh basil leaves
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes
Serves 2

Method

1. Half-fill a medium to large saucepan with cold water and sprinkle in a pinch of salt. Bring to the boil.
2. Pour the olive oil into a decent sized frying pan and put on a medium heat. Add the onion slices and fry for 5-7 minutes, until they begin to soften.
3. Meanwhile, when the water has boiled, add the potatoes and cook them following the pack instructions – which is usually around 15-20 minutes.
4. Add the garlic and oregano to the frying pan and and cook for a minute or so, stirring frequently.
5. Tip in the sliced pepper and fry for a further 5-7 minutes, stirring often.
6. Pour in the chopped tomatoes and season well at this point. Bring the sauce to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
7. Prod one of the potatoes with a knife and if it’s quite soft, they’re ready. Drain them over the sink using a colander.
8. Mix the potatoes and olives in with the tomato mixture and heat through for a few minutes. Give the sauce a taste and see if it needs more seasoning.
9. Serve the mixture in a large bowl. Tear the basil leaves into small pieces and scatter over the mixture.

If you make this dish, I’d love to hear how you get on with it. Please feel free to leave a comment below.

This recipe is based on BBC Good Food’s Mediterranean potato salad.

Marmite and thyme roast potatoes

Everyone should take pride in their roast potato preparation. The enjoyment of eating a well turned-out roast potato is similar to the feeling of waking up early on a Saturday morning and realising you don’t have to get up for work. Pure satisfaction.

Roasting up a bunch of potatoes – how hard can it be, I hear you ask? Well, I’ve eaten too many a soft and soggy spud while eating roast dinners out, and it’s such an avoidable disappointment.

Marmite and thyme roast potatoes

Crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside is the pièce de résistance and is achievable with this recipe. A hint of marmite helps to crisp the potatoes up well and adds a lovely depth to their flavour. And a touch of thyme brings a sprinkling of richness to the equation.

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 baking potatoes
  • ½ tsp marmite
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • Plenty of salt and pepper to serve

Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour
Serves 2

Method

1. Half-fill a medium-sized pan with cold water. Add a pinch of salt, place it on the hob and bring to the boil.

2. Meanwhile, peel the potatoes and rinse under a cold tap. Cut in half, and then cut each half into quarters. When the water begins to bubble, gently lower the potatoes into the water. Boil gently for 10-15 minutes.

3. Put the oven on to gas mark 6. Pour the oil into a medium-sized baking dish and sprinkle over the thyme. Place in the oven to warm through while the potatoes are cooking.

4. Test to see if the potatoes are ready by poking a knife through a couple of slices and making sure they’re fairly soft (but not too soft!) If they’re ready, drain them in a colander and press them gently with the back of a spoon to remove excess moisture. Put them to one side.

5. Take the baking dish out of the oven and carefully tip the potatoes into the dish, evenly distributing them throughout. Add the marmite to the oil so it melts and is easy to distribute over the potatoes. Coat all of the potatoes well in the oil, making sure you get a touch of marmite on all of the slices. Pour over a touch more oil if necessary.

Potatoes covered in marmite, thyme and oil

Potatoes covered in marmite, thyme and oil – ready for the oven.

6. Place in the oven for 45 minutes. Check on them every 15 minutes or so and turn them over to make sure they crisp up on all sides. After 45 minutes, they should be looking golden and crispy, which means they are ready to serve. Season well with salt and pepper and serve as a delicious accompaniment to a roast dinner.

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Zesty guacamole

Guacamole has got to be one of the world’s best dips. Hailing from Mexico, it’s a tasty avocado-based condiment that compliments many types of dishes – from burritos to salads – and it’s healthy too. I love everything about it: the colour, the texture, and of course its wonderful flavour.

This recipe was inspired by one I saw in Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Veg – a staple cookbook for vegetarians who like fuss free, hearty food. It’s super speedy to make and goes nicely with Mexican mains like fajitas and enchiladas.

Ingredients

  • Guacamole2 ripe avocados
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • a drizzle of olive oil
  • 1 tbsp natural yogurt
  • Salt and pepper

Preparation time: 5 minutes
Serves 2-3

Method

  1. Prepare the avocados: slice down the middle until you reach the stone, pull the two halves apart and remove the stone by hand or with a knife if it doesn’t pop out easily. Make a small tear in the skin and carefully peel it off each side of the fruit. Chop into small cubes.
  2. Pop the avocados into a small bowl. Add the lemon and lime juice, chilli flakes and oil and stir well with a tablespoon, until the avocados turn into a paste. Don’t worry if it’s a bit chunky; it’s good to keep some texture.
  3. Add the yogurt and stir in well until it blends in with the other ingredients.
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve – depending on how messy your mixing gets, you may like to transfer the dip to a new bowl.