Veggie-filled spring rolls offer the perfect holiday detox
If you are up to your eyeballs in eggnog, you're probably in desperate need of a detox. And by detox, we mean a truckload of fresh fruits and vegetables prepared as minimally as possible, because you have things to do! And we're not just talking any vegetables. We're talking super cruciferous vegetables, full of the good fuel that your body needs to rev up for the new year.
Though the term may be unfamiliar, cruciferous vegetables are not. Arugula, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, and radishes are among many vegetables in the cruciferous family, which are prized for their flavor, texture and nutrients. Chef Katherine Polenz says, "Cruciferous vegetables are underutilized, but are so rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and nutrients. Dark leafy kale is high in minerals and proteins, and provides a great textural addition."
This Vegetable Spring Rolls recipe is packed full of these super-vegetables, which means it's also full of antioxidants; fiber; vitamins C, E, and K; and folate. We've added some creamy hummus and the ultra-flavorful dukkah spice blend.
An aromatic spice blend with Egyptian roots, dukkah is unique because it includes seeds and nuts, like hazelnuts, pistachios, and sesame seeds, which adds a welcome richness to vegetarian recipes. Dukkah is commonly used as a seasoning on traditional flatbreads, but once you try it, you'll be hard pressed to find something that couldn't use a sprinkle. It should be easy to find at your local grocery store or specialty market.
To pair with the spices, we've added some of our favorite crunchy cruciferous veggies, which also happen to be vibrant in flavor and color. Each vegetable, from the kohlrabi (kind of like radish/broccoli) to the watermelon radish, lends a new flavor and texture to the spring roll, so each bite is unique. The beauty of this recipe is that you can mix and match your favorite flavors, adding broccoli, shredded cabbage, or even tofu.
We call for most of the vegetables to be julienne, which is a cut in the shape of a thin matchstick. This cut is perfect for a spring roll, because it's big enough to be crunchy, but thin enough to bite through. The best way to cut a julienne is to slice each vegetable about 1/8-inch thick, then cut those slices into matchsticks. A mandolin will do it twice as fast, if you have one.
Once you have your juliennes in order, it's time to give the kale a little extra attention. Kale is a needy vegetable, though to be fair, it really does a lot of work for us, and we probably owe it a good massage from time to time. If you've ever declared, "Ugh, I hate kale," it's probably because it wasn't properly coaxed and coddled into a good mood.
For sciency reasons (enzymes, compounds), kale benefits from a literal massage, where you take the leaves and rub them together until they soften. You will see a notable change in the appearance of the leaves, which will turn a more vibrant shade of green, and they will also be much softer and more tender. The kale will also be sweeter.
Serve these spring rolls as a light lunch, on a platter as a party snack, or alongside a nice veggie soup for a satisfying dinner. And if a raw, vegetarian spring roll is going a little too cold turkey, we'll look the other way if you want to add some grilled shrimp or chicken. Maybe just not that leftover prime rib.
• This article was provided to The Associated Press by The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York.