Did you know that romaine lettuce is 17% protein? Or that it’s packed full of potassium, calcium and iron and more vitamin A than carrots? And in addition to squeezing all of this nutrition into each bright frond, and being virtually cholesterol and calorie free, it has a lovely mild flavour; making it perfect for parcelling up yummy fillings like marinated shiitake mushrooms, bean sprouts, tofu and lime. (Yes, I am continuing the current theme of lime-everything that I’ve got going on…)
Ladies and gentlemen: romaine is the new kale. In fact, it is one of the most nutrient dense vegetables you can eat, which is why I’ve used it in this twist on a Vietnamese classic – the summer roll – in place of the traditional rice paper wrappers. This is a recipe bursting with bright natural flavours, enhanced only by a simple marinade for the mushrooms and tofu to bring out a little extra zing.
Now, before I continue, I need to warn you that this recipe is dangerously delicious. You will not be able to stop at a reasonable number of rolls. You will carry on eating until everything has gone. Any leftover sauce on the plates will be licked for fear of missing out on any of the umami heaven. In short, you need to make these today.
But not only devilishly good in the taste department, these summer rolls are literally little parcels of nutritious, whole food goodness. Made without refined sugars, grains or shop-bought sauces; this is a quick, simple, champion of a dish. It’s high on fresh, great-tasting ingredients, low in fat, full of vitamins and minerals and overflowing with goodness. So you won’t feel bad when you reach for your fourth… or fifth roll.
Take a leaf, scoop up the fillings, drizzle on or dip into the tangy peanut sauce – the sauce! – and wrap up and roll. These make a fantastic lunch (how light that lunch is will depend on how many people you’re willing to share it with), a great crowd-pleasing dinner party starter, or an excellent grain-free alternative for Pancake Day.
What are you waiting for? Here’s why you should give these Spicy Romaine Rolls a go today:
- they are fresh, crisp, zesty, tangy, fragrant and nutty;
- you’ll have a delicious and complex-tasting meal ready in under 30 minutes;
- you will feel the benefits of a super-sized hit of protein from the romaine, peanut sauce, tofu and mushrooms;
- these are a creative and delicious alternative to rice paper or flour-based pancakes;
- you can enjoy a legitimate way to dip (and dip again) your lunch into a heavenly peanut miso sauce;
- you’ll combat winter illnesses the tasty way with the healing powers of chillies and vitamin C; and
- you’ll discover a great recipe that can be whipped up in advance: the majority of the prep for this meal is in the slicing and chopping of vegetables, ready to be rolled at the table.
So here’s the recipe for my super tasty, super healthy Spicy Romaine Rolls. I hope you love them as much as we do! Have you got any favourite pancake alternatives?
- 1 head of romaine, leaves picked and washed
- 325g firm tofu
- Tofu marinade: 1 tsp ground coriander, 1 tsp ground ginger, 1 tsp garam masala, juice from 1.2 lime, 4 tsp tamari or soy sauce, 1 tsp apple cider vinegar, 1 red chilli thinly sliced
- 125g shiitake mushrooms
- Shiitake marinade: 1 tsp oil (olive, sesame, rapeseed), 1 tsp tamari or soy sauce, 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 small carrot
- ½ small white cabbage
- 50g bean sprouts
- 15g fresh coriander
- 4 spring onions
- 1 tsp oil (coconut or sesame works well)
- For the Peanut Sauce: 2 tsp crunchy peanut butter, 2 tsp dark miso, juice from ½ lime, 3 tbsp water
- Begin with the tofu. Drain, wrap in kitchen paper and press down with a plate. Combine the marinade ingredients in a bowl. Carefully cut the tofu into small cubes and add to the marinade, ensuring each piece is covered.
- Next, finely slice the mushrooms and combine in another bowl with their marinade ingredients.
- Prepare the carrots by slicing as thinly as you can to about the length and width of a matchstick.
- Slice the cabbage into thin shreds.
- Slice the spring onions and chop the coriander.
- To make the peanut sauce, combine all the ingredients in a bowl and give it a good stir.
- Heat the oil in a large frying pan or wok and gently add the tofu and any marinade that hasn't been soaked up. Cook until lightly browned (about 4-5 minutes) and then add the mushrooms and cabbage. Once the cabbage has wilted you're ready to serve.
- Set all the ingredients out in bowls and tuck in!