For our recent family gathering (which had a sandwich/finger foods theme), I made two kinds of fresh spring rolls and dipping sauce. I made a Thai green papaya salad filling for one, along with a peanut sauce. Along with the papaya salad, the first version contained red leaf lettuce and rice vermicelli. The second version contained julienned persian cuke, pineapple tidbits, red bell pepper, scallion, red leaf lettuce, cilantro, Thai basil, crushed peanut, and rice vermicelli. I took along a bottled Thai sweet chili sauce that went well with this one. Salad with no need for a fork. My BIL who never eats vegetables said "Anything you cook tastes good" and put one of the spring rolls on his sandwich.
One of my nephews (whose girlfriend is vegetarian) also liked these a lot.
The pineapple-cuke version is pretty straightforward, and the ingredients are generally readily available. Have all the ingredients prepared and ready. Just cut the red bell pepper, cuke, and some scallion in matchstick-like pieces. You can use canned pineapple or fresh. Chop some roasted peanuts. Use the leafy parts of lettuce, leaving out the harder stem part so it won't break the rice paper when you roll them. Use whole leaves of Thai basil and cilantro, adding a few of each per roll. Soak the rice vermicelli in boiling hot water til soft (or prepare as package suggests), rinse well in cold water and drain. You can toss the noodles with 1/2 to 1 tsp toasted sesame oil for flavor and to prevent noodles from sticking together, if desired. You'll need rice paper wraps, of course, and a container (bowl or plate) with hot water to dip/soften the rice paper wraps. A wet towel is good to lay out on the counter to place the finished rolls on. Fold the towel over the rolls to keep them from drying out while you're making the other rolls. I also use a wet towel to lay my rice paper on when making these. To store, I layer the spring rolls between pieces of damp paper towel in a sealable container. Fresh spring rolls are best eaten the day they are made, but they'll keep a couple days in the fridge if you have leftovers. After that the rice paper can dry out, get hard/chewy, or become soggy and fragile (depending on the filling).
Green papaya might be harder to find in some areas. In the Phoenix area, I find green papaya already shredded in 1 pound packages at Lee Lee's market. Alternatively, if it's available, you can buy a whole green papaya, peel, seed, and shred/julienne it yourself.
Kari's Green Papaya Spring Rolls
3 Tbsp lime juice
2 1/2 Tbsp brown sugar (or other sweetener to taste)
2 1/2 Tbsp water
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil*
1/2 tsp vegetarian fish sauce (opt)
1/4 tsp minced ginger
1/2 tsp chili-garlic sauce
1 pound shredded green papaya
1 carrot, peeled and shredded (I used a potato peeler to make shreds)
1/4 cup chopped roasted peanuts
1 Roma tomato, julienned
3 scallions, jullienned, cut in 2-inch lengths
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup fresh Thai basil, chopped or cut in ribbons
Combine dressing ingredients in large bowl. Add salad ingredients. Toss well to combine. Allow papaya salad to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
For Spring Rolls:
12 rice paper wrappers
red leaf lettuce
3 ounces rice vermicelli, prepared as directed
Dip a rice paper wrapper in hot water (about 10 seconds). Lay wrapper on your damp towel. Place a piece of lettuce leaf on the part of the wrapper closest to you. Add some vermicelli. Add some papaya salad. Carefully roll the rice paper wrapper up over the filling one complete turn, then fold in the sides and finish rolling. Place roll under a damp towel and proceed with remaining rolls.
1/4 cup peanut butter
3/4 cup very warm water
1 - 1 1/2 Tbsp Hoisin sauce
1-2 tsp Sriracha
2 tsp lime juice (opt)
1 Tbsp chopped peanuts (opt)
Combine the ingredients, starting with the lesser amounts, and adjust to taste. This makes a fairly thin dipping sauce. For a thicker sauce, use less water.
*NOTE: If you're concerned about the toasted sesame oil in the dressing, most of the dressing actually remains in the bowl when you take out the salad to make the spring rolls, so the amount of oil in the rolls will be minimal. If you want an alternative to using the sesame oil, I'd suggest toasted sesame seeds. I'd crush these a bit with a mortar/pestle to help release the flavor before adding them to the dressing.