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Roasted Zucchini + Soba Noodle Summer Rolls {Vegan + Gluten-Free}

Roasted Zucchini + Soba Noodle Summer Rolls {Vegan + Gluten-Free}

Winter be damned, we want summer rolls – and we want them now.

These rolls take a bit of doing, but making them is a process that I find wholly enjoyable when I have the time for a leisurely kitchen project, and the resulting rolls feel so pretty and special. Soba noodles are cooked and rinsed under cool water, then tossed with a few drops of oil to prevent stickage. Zucchini are roasted and cooled. Carrots are ribboned and tossed with rice vinegar, scallions are slivered, herbs are stemmed and washed. Rice paper wrappers are softened in warm water and layered with ingredients. Rolls are rolled. Sauce is made. Rolls are eaten! (Best part.) Serve these at a cocktail party and people will look at you as though you are magical.

This recipe isn’t set in stone, so feel free to use whatever vegetables you happen to have on hand. Snap peas, cucumber, bell pepper, and radish would all be good.

By Alanna Taylor-Tobin, originally published on The Bojon Gourmet.

Roasted Zucchini + Soba Noodle Summer Rolls {Vegan + Gluten-Free}

Select smaller zucchini for these rolls, which will have maximum flavor and minimum water content. Feel free to play fast and loose with the filling, adding cucumber, radish, snap peas, thai basil, shiso, mushrooms, or sweet peppers as you see fit. I used 100% buckwheat soba for their gluten-free-ness, but the hybrid guys made with wheat tend to hold together better when cooked. I used these organic brown rice spring roll wrappers from Happy Pho which contain green tea, but any wrappers will work beautifully. I found that 25 seconds submerged in warm water prior to rolling softened these just the right amount (yes, I timed it). White rice wrappers will probably soften up more quickly, however, so go with the package instructions.

These rolls are best eaten shortly after rolling when the wrapper is moist and pliant, but they’ll keep airtight and covered in damp paper towels in the fridge for a day or two. You can spritz the rolls with water if they become dry or tough.

As for the sauce, be sure to stir your jars of almond butter and tahini prior to measuring as the oil likes to separate and float to the top. You can substitute both with peanut butter if you like.

Image courtesy of Alanna Taylor Tobin | The Bojon Gourmet
Image courtesy of Alanna Taylor Tobin | The Bojon Gourmet

Makes about 12 rolls, serving 12 as an appetizer

For the zucchini:
6 medium zucchini (about 1 3/4 pounds / 800 grams)
2-3 tablespoons light olive oil (or other cooking oil)
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

For the noodles:
7-8 ounces soba noodles (100% buckwheat if you want the rolls to be gluten-free)
1 tablespoon light olive oil

For finishing the rolls:
4 medium carrots, scrubbed
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
leaves from 1/2 a bunch of mint
leaves from 1/2 a bunch of cilantro (soft stems ok)
4 scallions
8 ounces seasoned, firm or extra-firm tofu (preferably smoked or braised)
12-16 brown rice (or other) spring roll wrappers (plus extras to allow for breakage)

For the dipping sauce:
1/4 cup smooth almond butter
1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup tamari (or soy sauce)
1/4 cup toasted sesame oil
1″ knob of fresh ginger, finely grated on a microplane to equal 2 teaspoons
4 teaspoons maple syrup
1/4 cup rice vinegar, or more to taste

Cook the zucchini:
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 425ºF.

Halve the zucchini crosswise, then cut them into 1/2″ thick spears. Place them on a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with the olive oil, and sprinkle with the salt. Toss to coat, then spread them into a single layer. Roast the zucchini until golden on the first side, about 10 minutes, then rotate and cook on a second side until golden and tender but still firm, 5-10 more minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.

Cook the noodles:
Bring a large saucepan filled with lightly salted water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook, stirring, until tender (see the package for cooking time). Drain and rinse well with cool water, then toss with the 1 tablespoon olive oil. Set aside.

Prepare the fillings:
Peel the scrubbed carrots into ribbons with a vegetable peeler. Place in a medium bowl and toss with the rice vinegar. Set aside.

Place the cilantro and mint leaves in a bowl.

Rinse the scallions well, trim, cut them crosswise into 4″ lengths, then into long slivers and place in a small bowl.

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Cut the tofu into pieces roughly the size of the zucchini spears and place in a bowl.

Assemble the rolls:
Fill a very large bowl with warm water. Have the wrappers and ingredients nearby, as well as a large plate or cutting board to shape the rolls on, and a platter on which to place the finished rolls.

Submerge a wrapper in the warm water and hold it there until it has softened a bit but still holds its shape. (My brown rice wrappers liked exactly 25 seconds, but white rice or tapioca wrappers usually take only 5 seconds or so. It may take a few tries to get the timing right.) Lay the wrapper on the plate or cutting board. On the lower third of the wrapper, place a small handful of noodles, 2-3 pieces of tofu, 2-3 zucchini spears, a few carrot ribbons, several slivered scallions and a generous handful of herbs.

Grasp the bottom of the wrapper with your thumbs and forefingers and cup the filling with your other six fingers to fold the bottom of the wrapper up and over the filling. (It may take a bit of practice to get the right amount of pressure so that the wrapper doesn’t tear but the filling is pressed tightly enough to hold together when the rolls are cut.) Fold the sides of the wrapper in toward the center, then roll the roll the rest of the way. (For pretty rolls, you can place a few herb leaves on the wrapper before making the final fold.)

Assemble the remaining rolls, covering the finished ones with damp paper towels or a clean, damp kitchen towel to keep them from drying out. (Or store them airtight covered in damp paper towels and chill for 1-2 days.)

Make the dipping sauce:
In a large bowl, whisk together the almond butter, tahini, tamari, sesame oil, ginger, maple syrup, and vinegar until smooth. Taste, adding more vinegar or ginger if you want the flavors a little sharper, more almond butter if you want it thicker, or a few drops of water if the mixture is too thick. The dressing will keep for up to a week in the fridge.

To serve the rolls, cut them in half on the diagonal and arrange them on a platter with the dipping sauce. Eat!
See the original post for step-by-step images.Alanna is a recovering pastry chef who loves sharing fresh, seasonal recipes from her San Francisco kitchen via her blog, The Bojon Gourmet (bojon = no job, backwards).

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