Vegetable Summer Rolls

Summer rolls are one of my favorite things, I love everything about them- the vegetables, the thin noodles, the texture of the rice paper…and to be honest I could probably drink a glass of the dipping sauce that is usually served with them. I get an intense craving for them every once and a while and today was one of those days. I also happen to have the dipping sauce from Trader Joe’s that I love, so it was good timing to make them. Summer rolls are pretty easy when it comes to the ingredients because you can really use a lot of different vegetables, I usually try to get a few different colors so they look pretty when wrapped up together. I also love tossing in fresh basil or mint!

1 seedless cucumber, cut into thin matchsticks
1 carrot, peeled and cut into thin matchsticks
1 ripe avocado, cut into thin slices
Fresh basil or mint leaves
Package of spring roll skin (the larger sized ones)
1 box rice noodles

For the sauce: I LOVE Trader Joe’s sweet chili dipping sauce, so this is what I used. It is delicious. But you can also make you own version at home if you’d like.

Start by chopping all of your vegetables into thin pieces. Next, get a pot of water boiling then remove it from the heat. Add your rice noodles and let sit in the water for about 8-10 minutes. Drain and run under cold water until the noodles are cold. Set aside. I only usually cook 1/4 of the package at a time because it makes a lot of noodles! Next, fill a shallow dish with lukewarm water (I always use a pie dish) and add one of your spring roll skins making sure to get it completely submerged underwater for about 15-20 seconds. You want it to feel like it is about to get “noodley” but still has some firmness to it. Reason being, once you remove it from the water, you’ll see that it still continues to loosen up a bit. Place the sheet on a flat clean surface. Add your noodles along with you other ingredients. Place them a little under the center line though so when you roll you’re able to get it tight. Try to work fast before the wrapping starts to get stuck to the surface (if it does just keep dipping your fingers in water as you’re rolling it, this helps a lot). Start by folding up the bottom and tucking it under the ingredients, next fold in the sides, then roll it up! It’s just like rolling a burrito really. Cut in a diagonal in half and serve with dipping sauce!

Butternut Squash Soup With Turnips and Apples

Butternut squash soup. It’s so great in the winter, warm and filling. Exactly what I wanted after a week of freezing cold weather here in the city. I also was excited to try out my new immersion blender that I got for Christmas, so this was perfect. I had a turnip and some apples on hand, so I added those for some extra flavor. This soup was delicious! And incredibly fast and easy for a homemade soup…

(adapted from Smitten Kitchen- serves about 8)
1 large butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1 large turnip, peeled and cubed
2 apples, peeled and cubed
1 large onion, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 32-ounce box of vegetable broth (or chicken broth)
1/4 cup unsalted butter (1/2 a stick)
1 1/4 teaspoons fresh minced thyme
1 1/4 teaspoons fresh minced sage
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 cup cream

2 tablespoons butter
1/4 inch thick baguette bread slices (however many you’d like!)
grated Gruyere cheese
fresh minced thyme
fresh minced sage

Melt 1/4 butter in a large soup pot, add the garlic and cook for a minute followed by the onion. Cook for about 10 minutes until translucent. Add the broth, squash, turnips, apples, and fresh herbs. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let everything simmer for about 20 minutes, or until you are able to pierce the squash with a knife.

At this point you can either blend it in batches in the blender until smooth, then return it to the pot, or you can use an immersion blender right in the pot (just turn of the heat first). I went for the immersion blender! Once smooth, stir in the ginger, cumin, and cream.

Now for the croutons! Get your broiler going. Butter one side of the bread slices and place them on a baking sheet. Place them in the oven under the broiler until golden. Flip them over and add the cheese and fresh herbs, place back under the broiler until the cheese is melted and the edges get a little crispy. By flipping it, you are able to get both sides toasty and crunchy. Ladle some soup into the bowls, and top with the crouton. Enjoy!