Spring-y Spring Rolls with Carrot Ginger Miso Sauce

04 . 09 . 12

When I start a copywriting assignment with a new client, the most important question I ask to get to know them is “where are you, what are you doing, and who are you with when you most feel like yourself?” They often smile, get a little quiet, and start to tell a story. Somewhere they visited, Saturday rituals at home… little details that reveal their personality and perspective. It’s more anthropological experimentation than it is helpful writing tool. Often, how they answer this question is entirely different than the manner in which they answer all the others. They haven’t prepared for this sort of prompt, so they have a chance to share in their sincerest form. How interesting is it that?

Using the exercise on myself, I become overwhelmed with a deep and exhilarating sense of peace and understanding as I am instantly transported to a time and space where things were just as they should be. When I find myself drifting off course or am sorting through serious life decisions, I try to practice this mediation. It has a funny way of bringing my head and heart back into alignment when the wires get crossed or cut. I’ve recently come to think of it as my “happiness compass.”  Ultimately, when we are able to live out the truest, most authentic versions of ourselves, we can be the most happy.

I think so often we get caught up in creating an idea of happiness that we look too far outward, forward to things and elaborate ideas that will slingshot us out of a current state of fatigue, frustration, fear, etc. While I totally think happiness is something you can and should work to manifest, in times of uncertainty, it is best guided by the reminders living inside us all. Memories can’t provide direct answers for our troubles, but the process of remembering may lull the voices, our own and otherwise, that may be pulling/pushing us into a direction that leaves us feeling unsettled. It creates space for us to truly consider all that we know to be true, trust all that is yet to be taught, and go forward with a sense of empowerment to just be. It brings everything back to center. There may be chaos, there may be distraction, there may be consternation… but in our own answer, there can be stillness. And that is enough.  

So I ask you this question, today…

Where are you, what are you doing, and who are you with when you most feel like yourself?” 

Close your eyes. Listen. Let those places, people, spaces wash over you and fill you with love and light.

Feel free to shred, julienne, or dice anything your heart desires for these guys — spring rolls are incredibly versatile. I’ve mixed soft greens, crisp cabbage, and creamy avocado to diversify the texture. Add or subtract herbs as desired. Play with the sauce to your liking too, I spotted it in the magazine and knew it had potential.

And… get this: Happyolks has a free app for iPhone. Um, What!? Speaking of things that remind us who we really are, my incredible/handsome/kind little brother spent the semester in one of his engineering courses developing it for us. Hugs to Austin for his hard work. Download it from the App Store and check for updates and new features as the year progresses.

Spring-y Spring Rolls 

  • 1 dozen medium rice paper sheets
  • 1 head napa cabbage, shredded
  • 3 cups escarole (or soft lettuce), shredded
  • 2 cups micro basil
  • 2 cups whole mint leaves
  • 3 avocados, segmented

Carrot Ginger Miso Sauce - adapted from Bon Appetit

  • 2 tbsp miso paste
  • 1/4 cup minced spring onion
  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 2-3 tbsp finely grated carrot
  • 2-3 tbsp finely grated ginger
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • t tsp rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp honey (brown rice syrup for vegans)
  • juice of one lemon
  • sprinkle of salt

Submerge a single spring roll wrapper in a bowl of hot water until completely pliable, about 15 seconds. Remove, and gently set on a flat surface. Layer with cabbage, escarole, avocado, and herbs. Construct a roll like a burrito; start with the bottom and cover the horizontal line of veggies. Fold in both sides and press to seal. Roll up tightly to the top and seal the edge. Set aside. Repeat.

For the sauce “Place all ingredients plus 1/4 cup water in a resealable container. Cover and shake vigorously until well combined.”

  • Those are very simple questions yet I find them so hard to answer. I guess I am afraid to look to much inside me for fear that I might not like what I discover. Where am I indeed and what am I doing? Just traipsing through life seeking for what…? I don’t know…

  • Definitely gonna try this one. Thanks!

  • When I’m at home lost in the many things I think about and do on a daily basis — especially when they are of a creative nature. Gardening, doing a project in the house, writing — because each of them cannot be separated from thoughts of who matters most in my life. Cooking counts, of course, and when I know all my boys will be around the table to enjoy a meal I’ve prepared and we laugh and are silly, it’s the best of times. They’d love these wraps — that sauce is on my menu tonight, I think…

  • this post was a breath of fresh air!

    beautiful photography…beautiful sentiments…and a beautiful meal as a result of it all. thank you for giving me a moment of calm in my chaotic day :)

  • Another beautiful & delicious recipe!! These gorgeous photos make me want to get to my farmer’s market immediately, but unfortunately it’s only open Saturdays. It will be well worth the wait, though, if these lovely spring-y spring rolls are the reward!

  • This looks sooo healthy and yummy. Definitely on my “Soon Must make list” :) Thanks for sharing.

  • There’s an app for that? You and your possie are quite talented!

  • Blaine

    I love your words on this – especially how easy it is to become obsessed with creating an abstract idea of happiness instead of cultivating it more naturally and in less of a cerebral way. From experience, this totally takes me further away from where I want to be.

    I happily discovered your blog recently, thanks for putting your beautiful pictures and words out in the big wide world!

    Blaine

  • I loved all your words – such a deep truth is spoken in your thoughts: many thanks for that! I just needed it tonight…

    And I love your recipe. I do similar ones, that my Korean friend taught me. But I will try your version soon, it looks so mouth watering.

    Thanks for everything, I love your blog!! You and “My New Roots” are by far my best loved food blogs. (Although you are always feeding the soul as well…)

    smiles,
    iren

  • I’m in bed, waking up to a sleeping husband, a cat wrapped around my head, and one at the bottom of the bed. There are no words, just the rise and fall of their chests as they sleep. I smile and lay there a few minutes, soaking it all in, before getting up to have a few quiet moments to myself in the kitchen.

    Yum. These sound perfect for the soon-to-be 80+ temperatures we’ll be having soon.

  • How exciting about the app! In another note, these springlike spring rolls look absolutely gorgeous – the perfect antidote to an Easter spent overindulging in chocolate :-)

  • so lovely! we tried THREE times to get good photos of spring rolls for the book. not that I minded eating them, but I could not for the life of me make one that appeared photogenic. Hugh even asked if we wanted to hire a real vietnamese lady to help? Yea, that bad. Yours look insane. Especially that shot with all of the freshness piled in before rolling. beautiful work.

  • That is a really interesting exercise. My immediate thought is that I’m out poking around with my vegetables in our backyard, with some of the neighborhood cats occasionally sticking their heads in to see what’s going on. :)

    And rice paper rolls–yay! I love them.

  • I didn’t know you were a copywriter. I am, too.

    These look great. I love how regal that cabbage looks in the first shot. Perfect for your new iPhone app. (So cool!)

  • WOW! These sound exceptionally good! I’ve been on somewhat of a miso kick lately (it all started at a vegan Japanese restaurant that I adore, that does a dish with broiled eggplant, shitake mushrooms, and tofu dressed with sweet miso sauce.) I think it’s pretty easy to see a spring roll as having more of a blueprint “way it’s made” since generally they don’t vary much in ingredients or technique, so I’m especially impressed that you were able to step out of the box a bit with these. Can’t wait to make these!

  • Also, congrats on the app, that’s awesome!

  • The best thing I read all day – thank you for those words. And your pictures! Holy man! Spring rolls never looked so good.

  • I love that you ask that question; it’s a good one, and I’ll be pondering how I would respond myself. I also love those three photos of spring roll rolling. Beautiful!

  • These are absolutely beautiful spring rolls!! So fresh and light. Exactly as a spring roll should be. :)

  • I think I have all the ingredients for these to make for lunch! Yay! :D
    Enjoyed your thoughts. Thanks for sharing.

  • This is such a thoughtful post, Kelsey. Thank you for sharing. I do believe that we can create our own happy by looking inward. But you’re also right in that it manifests itself in other ways; ways that require work and planning. Thanks for sharing this today.

    P.S. I’m all over that ap!

  • These look so beautiful. Such fresh and bright colours.

  • Silence is such a hard place + space for me. Thank you for a good reminder of how to get there, and things to focus on.

    And, an App? That’s awesome.

  • You’re an old soul. I don’t spend much time reflecting on my state of happiness but I do believe you’re right, that we should look for it from within first. I finally found a package of spring roll wrappers and they have been sitting in my cabinet ever since. I think it’s time to do something with them! P.s. I just downloaded your app. Tell your brother god job for me!

  • These look absolutely wonderful. How refreshing. I think I could be very happy in my kitchen making these! I just stumbled upon you blog and I love it. Great recipes and great pictures.

  • These look amazing! I love spring rolls and am always looking for new filling combinations and new sauces to serve them with!

  • Such a great post, Kelsey. The spring rolls look so fresh, tender, and delicate, truly perfect for the season. I find it’s so easy to slip into the trap of my life running me, rather than me making the conscious decision to do the things that truly make me happy. This post is a wonderful reminder, and very useful advice on getting back on track when we’ve lost our way.

  • I’m in Italy, where I grew up. I am standing next to Roberto, my boyfriend, on a rock which plunges into the sea. We are both looking far away, the sun just left, the evening is warm, but there is also a soft breeze. All we hear is the waves and the birds singing. This happened more than once last summer, and I am really looking forward to fell the freedom that place gives me again.

    Beautiful post, you made me think, reflect and smile. I have to do this exercise more often, thank you.

  • These are so fresh and gorgeous.. the prettiest spring rolls i’ve seen!

  • It’s essentially a tie: cooking Sunday dinner for loved ones or exploring a new place by bicycle. You have a beautiful blog. These photos are so gorgeous and green. Spring at its finest!

  • this post resonated with me, and not just because i loooooooove spring rolls. i’ve learned over the last few years to look inward for happiness and you know what? there it is.

  • Perfect timing! I was just thinking the other day how I could easily make my own spring rolls– and your post comes along :) Its a sign, gonna try these out!

  • This would make for the most marvelous lunch today… Sitting outside on the deck, a glass of wine (ok, a bottle)… and a plate of these. Oh how good that sounds.

  • These look beautiful and delicious. I’m thinking they might be a great idea for a packed lunch to take to work – do you think the wrappers would hold up well if they were assembled the night before being eaten?

  • These rolls were awesome, but the dipping sauce was AMAZING! I used the left over sauce to pour over salmon, which was great! Thank you for this recipe!

    http://www.granola-ish.blogspot.com

  • Beautifully written and photgraphed.

  • Those rolls look good and I am liking the sound of the carrot sauce!

  • The sauce for these spring rolls is SO YUMMY! I put the left over sauce over salmon and brown rice. Thanks for the recipe and the inspiration!
    xo

  • Jessica

    Thank you so much for your recipe! I just made it for my friend and co-worker and they both loved it! I can’t wait to make this again!

  • love the cabbage picture…. gorgeous.

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Let's get in Touch

I wish I could make coffee dates with you all. In the meantime, feel free to drop me a line with questions, comments, concerns, or just to say Hi. I like that. There is nothing more uplifting than an email from a a fresh contact or kindred spirit.

I can be reached through this contact form and at happyolks [at] gmail [dot] com.