sum•mer (n): the existential struggle between wanting to be in shape and wanting to shove ALL THE FOOD INTO YOUR FACE
You know the feeling. Summertime finally hits, and you’re ready to hit the beach and show off that bod you’ve been working on. But two weeks in, you’ve had a few too many margs and entirely too many s’mores and then you realize you haven’t even hit the vacation part of your summer vacation yet and you’re like “HOW DID THIS HAPPEN” and then you end up eating more s’mores and it’s all just kind of a mess.
I know this feeling well. A week ago, I got back from spending over two weeks in San Francisco (um, hi, TONS of amazing food) at the American Bach Soloists Academy. It was a wonderful experience, but I definitely ate WAY too much. As in, I literally ate ice cream every day. And I mean literally, literally.
Raise your hand if you’re from the Northeast and have officially turned into a human prune!!! *both hands up*
Did YOU know it was possible to feel both dehydrated AND saturated at the same time? Heat and humidity are the latest power couple, and it is getting rough out there. I just got back from an incredible week in Connecticut at the Amherst Early Music Baroque Academy, but it wasn’t always fun and games for my fiddle… Let’s just say when working with a period instrument with gut strings in 95% humidity, the name of the game is “What The F#*! Just Came Out of My Instrument?!” 5 points every time a string goes a whole step out of tune. 10 points when two consecutive strings go out of tune in opposite directions. 15 points when you play a note and nothing comes out… You don’t really want to win.
In this heat, my second love (cooking) also becomes not-so-lovely. When the mere thought of turning on an oven drowns me in my own sweat, I often resort to “un-cooking.” Luckily, the summer season offers us a huge selection of delicious produce, so filling up on raw fruits and veggies is hardly boring. And, not to diss salad, but there are plenty of creative ways to enjoy your raw produce, which was precisely our challenge at The Recipe ReDux this month.
This month’s theme, “Get Your Fruits and Veggies in Shape,” challenged us to transform summer produce using creative cuts. My spiralizer is one of my FAVORITE tools in the kitchen for this, and summer rolls are a go-to meal for me during the warmer months – oven-free, fresh, crunchy, light, healthy, and filling! What could be better than combining the two?!
While making this recipe, I was pleased with how quick and SAFE spiralizing was as an alternative. Julienning veggies with a knife or special peeler is fine, but it takes forever… Plus, I will take any chance I can get to keep my fingers away from blades.
To “wrap up” this delicious dish (hehe) I made an easy miso sesame ginger dipping sauce. Miso is a relatively recent addition to my repertoire of ingredients, but I am in love with it. It automatically lends an explosion of flavor to whatever it’s in, and I am always looking for new ways to incorporate it. This was a home run as far as I’m concerned – miso obsessed with this recipe, and I hope you will be too 😉
- 12-24 sheets rice paper
- Warm water
- 1 large carrot
- 2 large (or 3 medium) cucumbers
- 1/2 purple cabbage
- 1 avocado, thinly sliced
- 1 mango, thickly sliced
- 1 cup cilantro or Thai basil leaves
- 3 Tbs. light miso
- 4 Tbs. seasoned rice wine vinegar
- 1 1/2-inch knob ginger, grated (about 1/2 tsp)
- 1 Tbs. sesame oil
- Spiralize carrots using the "spaghetti" blade, or thinnest blade possible. Set aside.
- Spiralize cucumbers using the "spaghetti" blade. I like to drain my cucumber noodles after spiralizing by squeezing them through a cheesecloth or a stack of paper towels. Set aside.
- Spiralize purple cabbage on the "ribbon" blade, or thickest blade possible. Set aside.
- Prepare your avocado, mango, and cilantro and arrange them alongside your other prepared veggies for easy assembly.
- Submerge a sheet of rice paper in a bowl of warm water for 5 seconds. Immediately lay the wet sheet on a cutting board or large plate.
- Fill your roll (careful not to overfill!) with veggies. I like to start with cilantro so you can see the leaves laying flat through the roll, and then add the veggies from thinnest to thickest. I also like to add more cilantro on top before rolling.
- Roll each summer roll delicately while keeping it as compact as possible.
- Whisk all ingredients together until smooth.
- Work as quickly as possible to prevent your rice paper from sticking to your surface!
- If necessary after rolling, double up with another sheet of rice paper.
I’ve been re-watching “How I Met Your Mother” lately, and have been impressed all over again by just how real it gets sometimes.
Remember that time you had no idea what your life was about so you moved somewhere else on a whim, thinking it would fix all your problems? But then it didn’t? Lily did that! And remember when you dated that person who you stayed with against ALL your better judgment? Ted did that – like, seven different times! Or maybe you didn’t do either of those things, but I bet you know someone who did! It’s as if they know.
But you know what I find totally unrealistic about HIMYM, though? They’re always at the bar. I get that it’s their social hub, and I guess if I lived right over a bar I’d go there a lot too. But it really just seems like they are always freakin’ there. Tell me, real world humans, who seriously has the time to sit around drinking beers and acting ridiculous on a regular basis? Not me. Well, maybe I act ridiculous, but many nights, I don’t even have time to make my own dinner. That’s when I end up calling in a favor from my friend Amy.
Don’t get me wrong, I love cooking for myself (probably obvious given the food blog). But whether you like to cook or not, sometimes the time crunch is real and a frozen meal is the best way to go, especially if you’re trying to save money and eat what you have in the house. Yes, some frozen meals can be considered “healthy’ – Amy makes a killer vegan mac and mattar paneer! – but what if there were a way to combine the convenience of a pre-bought frozen meal with the peace of mind that comes with preparing your food from scratch? Surprise! THERE IS!