East meets Southwest today in Grilled Chicken Spring Rolls. Yes indeed, they are a fun concoction of southwest flavors rolled up with grilled chicken and fresh vegetables then tucked into a Vietnamese ripe paper wrapping. Throw in some angel hair pasta with a little chile oil and they make a filling family meal.
You know me, I’m always looking for a way to cheat nature and keep from turning my oven on. So, when I can manage to cheat the dish washer too, I’m in heaven. All it took was a grill pan and a pot of water to get this on the table. Yes, we did use a few plates and bowls but, we made up for that… no silverware required. Just put the ingredients in the center of the table and let every one build their own spring roll.
I’ve had plenty of spring rolls as an appetizer in restaurants before but, I had never thought of making them for dinner until I attended a photography workshop given by my friends Diane and Todd from White on Rice Couple. After the first day of shooting, Diane and Todd brought all the fresh ingredients for authentic Vietnamese Spring Rolls into the studio and spread them out for dinner, family style. I have to say it was the nicest, most relaxed way to get to know a whole class full of people. While Diane introduced us to her Vietnamese cooking with fresh herbs, fish sauce, a wonderful chicken dish and how to work with the rice paper, our shyness disappeared and we wound up talking like old friends.
I thought I would use Diane’s magic trick and serve her Spring Rolls when my boys came over for dinner this weekend. They worked like a charm. The boys laughed and told jokes and hung around the table for most of the night. Best of all, I got to spend the time with them and not in the kitchen over the dish washer.
Try these out for your family dinner and see how long your teenagers can resist smiling.
Of coarse, you can add your own spin to these Summer Rolls and add any of the fresh ingredients that your family loves. I used our favorite southwest flavors. Check out Diane and Todd’s Blog for authentic Vietnamese Summer Rolls as well as their BLT Spring Rolls.
UPDATE! THIS JUST IN… DIANE AND TODD POSTED AN EXCELLENT TUTORIAL ON HOW TO ROLL SPRING/SUMMER ROLLS!
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 2 tablespoons spoons vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black bepper
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon chipotle powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 cups baby spinach
- 1 large English or hot house cucumber
- 2 carrots
- 2 avocados
- ½ bunch cilantro
- ½ pound angel hair pasta
- 2-4 tablespoons chile oil
- 12 sheets large rice paper rounds
- Trim skin from chicken and remove from bone. Drizzle chicken with oil and season with salt and pepper on both sides. Combine spices for spice rub and sprinkle about ½ teaspoon over each chicken breast and rub into chicken. Cover and set aside to rest for 20 minutes.
- Prepare the vegetables by rinsing the spinach and peeling carrot. Cut the carrot and hot house cucumber into julienne strips (1/8 to ¼ inch thick by 2 inches long).
- Grill the chicken over medium heat for 4 to five minutes (a grill pan works great). Turn the chicken over and grill until cooked through, but still juicy, another 4 to 5 minutes. Set aside to rest.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add angel hair pasta and cook to al dente ( “to the tooth” meaning the pasta should still have a little bite). Remember that the pasta will continue cooking after it is removed from the water so remove it just before you think it is finished. Immediately rise in cold water. Drain. Toss the pasta with chile oil and add a little more oil, as desired. Season with a little salt if necessary.
- Cut chicken into strips.
- Rinse cilantro and remove leaves. Serve the leaves whole or rough chop, if desired.
- Slice the avocado at the last minute.
- Assemble each summer roll individually. Dip 1 rice paper into warm water for about 3 seconds and spread out on a work surface or large plate. Add ingredients in layers. Starting with the spinach, make 1 to 2 inch wide layer of leaves on the edge of the rice paper that is closest to you.
- Layer strips of chicken, avocado, cucumber and carrots over the spinach. Top with a little bit of pasta and sprinkle with cilantro leaves.
- Starting with the edge closest to you and under the spinach, carefully roll the rice paper over the fillings. Tuck in the edges like a burrito if you wish or leave the ends open so that the fresh veggies can be seen.
- You may make these up to 2 hours ahead of time and cover tightly with plastic or place all of the ingredients on the table and have everyone assemble their own.
- To Serve a Group:
- Place all ingredients in serving dishes or on a large platter. The platters should be easy to reach so, if you are serving a large group, place a platter at each end of the table.
- Fill several pie plate sized dishes with about ½ inch of warm water to dip the rice papers in around the table.
- Be sure everyone has a large plate or work surface to roll their summer roll on.
- Serve with small bowls of dipping sauce.
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